Poetry…a love/hate relationship

Una rosa se hizo en mi corazon.
Una rosa llamada Astrid.
Y a esa rosa yo la considero
La mejor hermanita.

I was about seven years old when I decided I wanted to be a writer and wrote this poem for my little sister. She was just born and I wanted to celebrate it somehow. I will admit it is not proof of a prodigy child or someone with phenomenal writing talents. It was simply something I wanted to share with my family and my sister. After writing this poem, I was sure writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had managed to understand at a very young age the power of words, the power of MY words and the power of sharing these words with others.

When I was in the fourth grade, I had a great teacher that taught me not only to find my writing voice in English, but also taught me other types of writing. Texas had at that time the TAAS test as a standardized exam and in 4th grade, the exam assessed writing. We spent all year learning about essays that described, explained how to do something, compared and contrast two things, and persuaded others. I discovered and experimented with prose and fell in love with it.

Sadly, once I found prose, I never gave poetry another chance. Poetry became too codified for me, and even in college, I found poetry hard to read, comprehend and analyze. In prose, I felt I could explain myself much better; with poetry I had to choose my words carefully. Poetry became something that I had to be in the mood for. Sometimes it even felt like work.

Today I discovered a very interesting TED Talk about poetry, and it left me thinking. Stephen Burt says that poetry helps us live with the fact that we will die. We read poems written by people who died, we read poems about death, we even feel we can be immortalized with a poem. I think Stephen is onto something. I share with you the link to his talk in the hopes that he can get you thinking about poetry, if like me, you have put it aside, or to reaffirm your love of poetry if you are fortunate enough to understand it and love it!

TED Talk: Why people need poetry


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