I envy poets.
I don’t “get” poetry, and honestly — I don’t go out of my way to read it. It doesn’t resonate with me as a reader, and I absolutely cannot wrap my mind around it as a writer. I wrote poetry as a teenager (please, feel free to laugh) and it was awful. I’m not just being self-deprecating here. There was no rhyme, reason, or rhythm to the poetry I wrote — it was just a sixteen-year-old girl ranting with arbitrary line breaks.
The thing is, the poets I know who also write prose have some of the most gorgeous, intelligent prose that I’ve ever read. I imagine it has something to do with the form: that whole rhyme and rhythm thing. I feel like when a poet sits down to tell a story, they’re still bring that poet’s sensibility to the way they present their words. And the end result is something that makes me utterly green with envy.
(Obviously, I’m generalizing a bit — I’ve known poets who had some trouble getting their thoughts out using prose.)
I’m frequently told, “Oh, you should try it; it’ll inform your writing.” I firmly believe that. A form that requires you to use every word for the maximum amount of feeling? That encourages multiple meanings? That provides multiple forms, from the old school to the mathematical? As a writer, I can’t see a downside.
It doesn’t stop me from being daunted. The very idea of poetry ties my stomach in knots. It feels like I’m expected to scale a wall without any safety equipment. It strips all the things I feel comfortable with in my writing — characters and dialogue and setting — and instead demands the introspective of me. I could write poetry as a character, sure; I could tell a story instead of reflecting on my feelings. (I have a friend who does both these things, and well.)
I am a person with a lot of feelings, but the starkness of feeling that (I feel) poetry requires is a bit much for me.