Oh I love world poetry day. What a truly amazing thing to celebrate! So I’m going to take a teeny tiny break from writing poetry and actually talk about poetry and what it means to me. Let’s start with my favorite poem…The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson, some people will sit back and think but that’s a book, yep, but have you ever read it? Truly read it, heard the beat, the rhyme? Exactly. There are a few reasons why I love this poem so much; firstly it just simply rocks, secondly…okay let’s start a new paragraph for this bit.
When I signed up to complete the last part of my degree a big part of me (the whole of me) thought I was crazy to believe that I could actually complete a creative writing course. My grammar is stupidly stupid, my spelling isn’t terrible but I do struggle with the i before e unless who even cares rule, I make words up as I go along, my vocabulary was lacking, I was seriously under read compared to my peers and most importantly I had never, ever, ever written a single thing, so what the fuck was I even thinking! Logging into the forums this dread was multiplied by a gazillion, other students were talking about, Blake, Wordsworth…bah blah blah. It was an elitist competition to see who was better educated, who had experienced the more privileged upbringing, who was better cultured. The more books you had read (classics, they had to be the classics) or the more poets you quoted (even better if you were also able to recall from memory the exact details of their last meal on earth) the higher up this rank you scuttled. I was doomed. It was sink or swim. But in truth this situation did cause me to stop and pause I constantly felt I wasn’t good enough and every word I tried to put on the page wasn’t good enough. The problem was my thoughts were stuck, they were stuck on the idea that a poet/writer has to be a certain way…and dear God I did not fit that way. But where did this idea actually come from, what made me think that only educated, grammar nerd super wizz readers could become poets/writers? The obvious answer is; society, media, the education system, people, elitists the list is pretty endless and I could support this statement with a few links, but who truly cares. So what changed? At first nothing at all, I continued to be completely daunted by the forums and actively avoided them. I did go to the library and get out some poetry books, I took them home put them on the table and three weeks later I took them back to the library unread.The changes to my confidence were actually very rapid, increasing which each assignment I got back. My tutor kindly pointed me toward a new range of poets better suited for me (he also, with every assignment, gave me the web address for grammar and begged me to go read it!) but perhaps most importantly he validated that poetry comes in numerous forms, including, The Gruffalo. Okay i’m rambling I know, let me get to the point. Not all of us want to read classic poetry, not all of us are interested in books that are long covered in thick dust and dead skin. Not everyone reads simply as a way of showing off their amazingness. Some people read a poem because it feels good, because they can relate, because the language does not require a dictionary…I want to write for those people, so they too can enjoy poetry. The Gruffalo reminds me of this choice that I made, it reminds me that it is more important that a poem makes you feel alive, that the words feel good and that the images jump from the page. So The Gruffalo, is my favorite poem. ♥
Karen Hayward ©2016