Earlier this week we discussed if we should ask Emily Gould if she wants to do a thing for Pure Poetry Week. We ultimately concluded that until I finish my essay/novel about her excellent book And the Heart Says Whatever, which I loved and Laneia loved and Natalie liked and B. hated and John Moon hated and Julia loved, we can’t really ask Emily Gould for anything. (That being said, Amazon Associates holds us responsible for at least 18 sales of And the Heart Says Whatever since it came out in May 2010).
Luckily for us AND YOU, she just-so-happened to write about poetry at poetry magazine this week! So we can just live vicarioously through them instead. It’s a good one for any of you still feeling hesitant about your ability to love poetry:
It turns out that unless you make a concerted effort in the direction of reading poetry, poetry doesn’t just traipse into your mind by chance. You have to seek poetry out and, at least at first, you have force yourself to swallow it. Like a scratchy vitamin. Those poems jammed into the middle of a page of text in a magazine: no one reads them, or if they do, they read them in the wrong mindset. A poem is not like a cartoon that provides an instantaneously assimilable commercial break, a respite from long-form narrative. A poem requires full attention in a way that prose does not, and worse, a poem is much harder to like because every word matters. In a 5,000-word story or article, a reader will forgive or just not notice an off metaphor, unfunny joke, or annoying word. But one false note destroys a poem, or at least destroys its rapport with a reader. In this way, a poem is as hard to like as a person.