So on the horizon, we have National Poetry Day. If your only exposure to poetry was way back when you were at school studying Charge of the Light Brigade then you may think of poetry as stuffy, old-fashioned and just a bit naff. It’s like music without the cool tune, right? Well not really.
Unless you are a fan, you’re probably not aware that poetry has evolved. We have come a long way since Shakespeare’s sonnets. If you haven’t sampled the poems of Sylvia Plath with her cutting responses to her husband then you are missing out, however, even that may not be to some of your tastes. Things have evolved further since then. Beat poets, performance poets, poetry is more closely connected to music and comedy than it has ever been.
So how do I get involved?
Well, leading up to it why not sample some modern poetry: Carol-Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage are both widely respected British poets but if you want something more urban then hop on to YouTube and search for Someone like Mark Grist, the English teacher turned rapper. Or simply do a search for “poetry slam” and check out some of the videos. Poetry is engaging and it’s not all written by Oxford-educated scholars (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) anymore! Modern poetry is often far more relatable. The topics covered range from drug addiction to the love of pugs! (And who doesn’t like a pug?)
Taking things to the next level
Sure YouTube is a good starting point and it will help you dip your toe but if you like what you see why not get out and support poets? Most big towns and cities will have poetry nights and they are usually pretty cheap to attend! Why not go along? A poetry evening can sometimes be as cheap as just five pounds. Seriously what else are you going to do with a fiver? Does that even get you happy meal these days? Most poets don’t make a lot, if any, money and they do it for the props. Seeing a lot of faces at an event or them selling one of their “chapbooks” is the fuel that keeps their fire burning so supporting them makes a big difference.
And what if I want to have a go myself?
Yes, that is the spirit. Poetry is a wonderful thing to write. Unlike a story that tries to capture life events, poetry can be used to capture just a fleeting moment or to put words to a feeling, it can be flowery or iron-cold and all the stops in between. A poet once said to me “Poetry is my exorcism” and that is a truly wonderful way of looking at it. Often taking the time to write about how you are feeling can be cathartic. It doesn’t have to rhyme, you don’t have to worry about Iambic Pentameter, just rock some free verse!
So what should I do for national poetry day?
Well, have a look and see if there are any events local to you. There is a website dedicated to national poetry day that will help with this. If there is an event you’d like to take part in then do it! Seize the day! If there isn’t anything going on that you feel you can do, why not go and treat yourself to a nice looking pad and pen and dare to stain that virgin first page with the first draft of a poem! If you are really wary start with a haiku, they are wonderfully short and simple and a great beginners poem!