Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why Poetry Stinks – And You Should Love It

I must confess that as an English major and someone who loves books and has worked in the book industry for several decades, I’ve never bought a poetry book.  Most Americans don’t buy poetry books either.  There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but in the final analysis, we should conclude poetry books are not only important for society but can be enlightening and worthy of our time.

Though I haven’t bought poetry books, I have read some, including ones sent to me by potential clients as well as those I’ve been fortunate to promote to the media.  I like promoting poetry books because often the author is quite intelligent and speaks with a sense of conviction and mention that emotion is unparalleled.

Poetry books have many weaknesses and strengths, often due to the very things that make them both great and frustrating.

For instance, poetry often needs to be decoded, as if written in another language.   The English language may be a uniform series of words and definitions but somehow, with poetry, new connotations and meanings attach themselves and the reader is forced to be a translator of poet Ebonics.  Now, for some, they love the challenge of deciphering a puzzle, so this is great, and for others who don’t want to work too hard at understanding what the hell the writer is trying to say, well they hate it.

The thing about poetry is its deeply personal and as the poet open up his mind, soul, and psychological DNA to exposure, readers will come to love or loathe what the words leave when feeling.  Often, poets write of death, loss, broken hearts, failure and the shortcomings of life.  Some write on life, birth, and the rewards of a life filled with mystery, but the poet is more so associated with gloom.  Still, as much as many people aren’t willing to suffer along with an honest poet’s reading of life, some in the minority will embrace the dark truths uttered by the poet.

Poetry seems to be emphasized more by form than content, where how the words are presented trumps the words themselves.  Poetry is brief – the hit and run of the literary arts.  It may not always rhyme, but it does seem to be no longer than a song’s lyrics.  It’s kind of a tweet in book form.

Poetry may be perfect for our attention-deficit disorder society.  You can read a page, put it down, and pick it up later on.  No concentration required.

But poetry is not simple or easy.  It requires the reader to bring something to the table, as if the poem is incomplete without the reader to fill in the blanks and assign a value or scale to the poem.  Each poem gives the reader something to ponder, often filled with pothole-sized voids.

Poets, at their core, are usually intellectuals who explore life from all facets, like a scientist, reporting back on what was found, seen, felt, and imagined.  The findings come in the form of fleeting thoughts and scattered observations.  The reader has to piece the puzzle together, often not working with a diagram nor even all of the pieces.

Poets with their release of random conceptualizations and interpretations, flood the reader with a stream of consciousness that is best delivered to a therapist.  But poetry is also therapeutic and a work of art.  Poets lead us and help guide us through life.  They can be so good at saying so much with so few words.

Poems may confuse, even frustrate us – yes, indeed.  But they deserve our time, money, and attention.  In poetry rests the secret to life and even when reading these secrets, it still feels like a final truth eludes us.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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