on reading poetry
So why read poetry? As I read through The Best of Australian Poems 2010, there were many poems I simply didn’t like or understand. It occurred to me that I was reading for a specific purpose; rather than to appreciate different voices for their own particular qualities, I was really only browsing through the poems, looking for something in particular. My moment of minor serendipity also revealed that the objects of my search were voices that resonated with my own. No doubt I could learn much from most of the poems published in this compilation; their fresh use of language and creative juxtaposition of ideas were impressive, and may eventually find their way into my own writing. Not all of these poems made more than a cerebral impression, though. What I wanted to be was moved or touched in some way; this was easier for the poets to do if they moved into territory which was familiar to me. Many poets may already be doing this, but unless I found the language accessible, the impact was lost. Of course it may be that if I had worked a little harder on a particular poem, or persisted with multiple readings, the message would penetrate deeper; that I would feel the poet’s heart of they would touch mine. In that sense I am a lazy reader of poems; first impressions count. So, no matter how excellent. unless a poem spoke to me of matters of the heart or faith, I did not find myself enjoying it. This is not to say that the poems I did relate to lacked beauty and elegance of language, or were any less rich than any other; simply expressed, if I didn’t get it, I didn’t enjoy it.
The compilation did introduce me to the wonderful poetry of Anne Elvey, who is a poet, researcher and theologian. For me, her poems spoke to that which is deeply important to the human experience with simple beauty and power. Her WordPress blog contains or links to samples of her poetry and haiku or tanka.