Why people don’t like poetry?

shelley

This essay is inspired by some of the recent comments in this post. And it made me think: why  people really don’t like poetry? What is it that keeps them away from maybe not writing, but from reading some really exquisite pieces by poets from all around the world?

The usual answer is something like “Poetry is boring”, “I don’t understand it”, “It’s a waste of time”. So I wanted to explore this topic a bit further.

If we look more deeply around us, we can notice that people have very little time to appreciate art in general. This fast paced, consumer oriented society has trained us to want everything now and here. An instant satisfaction, an instant thrill, an instant experience: not allowing our biological system to perceive with all its senses; truly absorb our emotions and simply feel.

Life usually demands of us high level of practicality, logical and factual thinking in order for us to be functional and productive on a day to day basis. It’s very noticeable in how we are doing business and science. But where are the boundaries? Have we lost our human touch? In our lives when everything is so exact and explicit we have erased some of the basic human traits: ability to feel and empathize. We cannot treat our most intimate relationships, families and ourselves like we are on a business meeting and signing a business contract.

And there is this soft spot where poetry likes to ‘poke’ you. It demands something different from you. It demands your whole being to respond: if you try logically to analyze a poem, it will take you nowhere; if you search for shortcuts, you will be lost; if you need answers, probably you will be disappointed.

A poem is a journey that allows you to escape from typical factual thinking and forces you to question everything: instead of searching for answers on the outside, you need to look deep inside of you.

There lies the true value of poetry – especially for business leaders, as it can be seen as an antidote to typical business interpretations:

  • poem is associative rather than factual thinking;
  • poem enforces abstract thinking in comparison to deductive thinking.

Like Clare Morgan implies in “What poetry brings to business”:

reading poetry generates conceptual spaces that maybe different from the spaces usually approached in business and life in general.

As poetry is letting yourself to get familiar with the unknown – it shouldn’t instill fear of ambiguity and uncertainty, but rather to be seen as a vehicle, attractive mystical longing that can transcend us across those conceptual spaces and offer different modes of interpretation: a sure way to enrich our creativity in all aspects of our lives.

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins


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314 thoughts on “Why people don’t like poetry?

  1. Every reader interprets a particular poem from different perspectives and connects to it in many different ways which is what makes a poem such an invigorating and a vibrant read. Even though you are a rationalist and a very logical being the nuances and the easy nature of the poem pulls at the strings of your heart to make it sing. Poetry transports you to an alternate existence in which you, after a humble time span find yourself slipping in, to seek solace in this very much shallow world. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This post makes a good point about how many people read a poem and struggle to understand what it means, rather than just enjoying it; or letting it take them to an undiscovered place in their mind, a journey of the imagination or emotion or greater understanding- minus all the pressure. I have never quite thought about poetry in this way. It is like looking into a painting, and interpreting and appreciating it in whatever way the imagination allows. But, at the same time, I think it will always be the case that there is a certain exclusive number of readers who enjoy poetry (as well as other creative pursuit, for that matter); or are at least willing to give poetry a chance. Great thoughts

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on poetic single mama and commented:
    This post made me think of my daughters who dread Shakespeare in school almost more than anything else! I think we definitely need to introduce our youth to poetry that is perhaps more relevant to them. They shouldn’t always have to “begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means”!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Most of the poem we fail to relate, as we don’t know what is the context. What they want to express.a and b Reading a poetry is fine but don’t expect the same answer from a reader he or she might have a different point of view and no one wants to know. Honesty, we failed to promote the talent right from Schools.

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  4. First of all, it is such a commentable post you have here. Poetry is an art that many under appreciate. It is a complex piece of work that requires critical thinking that many do not have. Like what you say, reading poems and evaluating it is based on personal understanding not based on what the writer is trying to say. Writers may have a different perspective of their writings but readers have a choice of interpretating it in their own views which made poetry such an art itself. At times many dont seemed to understand what poetry is or scared to venture down the path. Thank you for such a great post that have much discussion. Much love.

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  5. We are trained from such a young age to view language and words in very practical and useful ways. When confronted with poetry, it can seem like the once solid and permanent thing we use to communicate with each other everyday becomes confusing and loses meaning which can be very disconcerting for anyone who hasn’t been taught to view things in more lateral ways. In a real sense I feel like poetry speaks directly to your subconscious, even if one may not understand everything that is written, you can still sense with some accuracy what the poet was trying to convey. Great article!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a very beautifully written post, yes our society simply wants to consume, rather than give which is damaging, and especially won’t allow you to analyse a poem which takes time. I’ve always loved poetry, but nowadays it’s being a little shunned at school with people saying the sciences will ‘get you farther’, when I can see the beauty of both. Great post, you made me realise how poem is an astounding art even more!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your article. Interestingly I just this year started to write poetry and now share it on my blog but what is interesting to me is that my love for it is new and just happened to come out of me as my heart was heavy in deep thought. I love how people share through poetry it’s the art of words and expression that draws the listening ear into a world of thoughtful and meaningful word pictures that blossom in the readers mind. Simply beautiful!

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  8. I didn’t like poetry for a very long time but I think it had a lot to do with not being emotionally ready for it and reading the wrong kind of poetry. Now it’s one of the few ways I express emotion that I otherwise wouldn’t know how to.

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  9. This post was great! I often write poetry to explore with my writing style because I find it difficult to put abstract things into words! What’s also interesting is that some people feel the same way about maths and physics in terms of the interpretation of fact or theory; I think it might have something to do with the link of abstraction which causes people to let hold on to doubts and fears! :0) Your post made me see a link between sciences and humanities! Thanks you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I used to be one of those people, but now it’s all I can seem to write. I agree with everything you’ve said. My poems are often the things I don’t want to express or that are too hard to. There is often a sense of awe or relief when I actually let them out.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love how some of my favorite poems conundrum to move me no matter how many times I read them. And you’re right about people not taking the time to enjoy art any more. They want everything to be sleek and practical and come with a specific explanation for every piece, but the great thing about at in all its forms is how it can mean something different to different people.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great site, poetry is something our mother read to us as we grew up. Some may have thought it to be a little mature for us at our ages, although today I am very grateful for the gift she instilled, because of that I love poetry today.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m an unintentional poet myself… meaning that I’ve always said that I don’t much care for poetry, and yet I go through stages where I seem to scribble out poem after poem. I’ve always loved reading poetry though.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I agree that analysing a poem to death helps to explain why so many people are put off reading (and enjoying) poetry. Your post reminds me of my own poem, “Poems and Flowers”: I gazed upon a flower, a thing of beauty.
    A scientist said, “It is my duty
    To explain it’s purpose,
    Let us look beneath The petals surface”.

    I watched how the light did slant
    Throwing dancing beams upon the plant.
    But the scientist ranted
    About the structure of that flower, so lovingly planted.

    Is not a poem a thing of beauty?
    Yet the critic sees it as his duty
    To deconstruct every line.
    Oh what happened to the poet’s verse divine?!

    Why spend hours
    Analysing poems and flowers
    When we can revel in beauty
    Forgetting “duty”?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Excellent post. I was asked to explain one of my poems to someone recently. And, like a fool I tried. It was harder to try and explain than it was to write. How can we explain something that we don’t ourselves fully understand.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Good answer. We do live in a society of instant gratification and do not step back to pay attention to other things (or people, for that matter) around us. Its hard to write poetry when you’re not in the moment and absorbing what the vibes or the sights are telling you, and hard to read it, too. You can’t read poetry in a hurry like a cheap paperback, it requires thought. So poetry’s one of those things that’s minimalized in our literature, though journals always seem to be on the lookout for some good poems. Also, for me anyway, its the format. I look at some poems today, like the prose poems, and i wonder why somebody didn’t just write a flash fiction about it. I can’t establish a rhythm from the wording and just can’t get it. So much stuff is written in abstract forms and prose that my more traditional-looking stuff has never been accepted…though on reflection my word choices could use some work. I just see what the poetry publications have and it makes me cling to my Maya Angelou and Edgar Allan Poe collections. Guess I need to slow down a bit more, too…working on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve always felt that Poetry is the shortest route to get to the adrenaline rush of the soul. I’ve met many people who shy away from reading poetry. I could list a hundred reasons i’ve heard over the years, yet I think one of the stronger reasons some people choose not to read poetry is because they fear it will invoke something emotional deep down inside that they may not be ready for. With stories… people can read to either escape or simply go with the flow, with imagery, they can either jump in or turn the lights off, but with poetry… it’s different. Poetry with it’s smooth flows and short lines, it’s something that’s hard to not let in when the eyes come across it. It’s that rapid jump into our hearts and mind that poetry can make, that can make someone feel something they’d wish they hadn’t. Yet, instead of soul searching and finding that true cause of the emotional pain or anger, they lash out at poetry in general and turn away from all of it.
    It’s for that reason that some people just leave poetry in the book and on the shelf and go about their day. Or at least, that’s what I have observed.

    Liked by 1 person

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