Epically Good Poetry
With National Poetry Month fast approaching, poetry has been on my mind lately. Who am I kidding, I'm an English Major, poetry is usually on my mind. The other day a man came in to tell us about Open Mic Poetry readings at the Bistro downtown starting up on March 31st. Also, tomorrow, March 6th, there is a free poetry reading to celebrate International Women's day! That's at the church in Hyde Park 1520 N 12th Street at 7 pm.
So, I've been thinking, some of our earliest literature was in the form of epic poems: Gilgamesh, the works of Homer, Beowulf, etc. Our first inclination as a species when writing stories is to write poems.
I just finished a modern book called Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas that is hardly an epic, but it is an intense teen novel written in poems. It comes out next month and deals with an abusive father, complicated feelings of neglect and silence, and the ever present themes of adolescence. The details of abuse are clearly implied and thoroughly dealt with, but because it was written in poems they are never actually spelled out. I think that made this easier to read. If it had been prose it may have been too uncomfortable, too brutal, especially since I think this was mostly autobiographical. The veils of fiction and poetic devices do a lot for the subtlety of this book.
A lot of books have come out recently that tell us their stories through poems. Some that spring to mind are the teen books of Ellen Hopkins and Walter Dean Meyers, the children's books of Sharon Creech, and the novel Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow which is at the top of my 'To Read' stack.
What is it about narrative poetry that is so evocative? so addictive to our psyche? Is it a coincidence that we are cycling back to poetic narratives after all these generations? I don't know, but I think not. This is just the kind of thing I ponder while I'm drying my hair (believe me, I wish I was kidding). Anyway, something worth thinking about.