I don’t read enough poetry. I have some favourite poets and anthologies, but I have to be in a particular mood for them. It’s easy to get absorbed in a novel and I can to some extent let go of my thoughts and escape into the story. With poetry, that’s not the case. Poetry requires concentration; the reader must engage with the content, meaning, structure, rhythm, to gain satisfaction from it. I think that’s why many people are put off reading poetry, as it seems like too much effort, or indeed they have memories of studying it at school where the dissection of lines took priority over enjoyment.
But then what is poetry? It’s not just words printed in a certain way on a page. Poetry is all around us. Words, images, sounds and experiences. Broaden your definition of poetry, and you’ll realise that it’s everywhere.
I wrote this post on impulse because it’s National Poetry Day. I’m going to read some poems later. However, I’ll be keeping in mind that when I hear a cat purring, when I see the clouds moving across the sky, when I crunch through the autumn leaves, that’s poetry too.