What Rhymes with “Blech”?

Poetry? Ugh. Not a fan.

Which is ironic, given that I was known to be a reasonably skilled, and somewhat prolific poet in high school (if I’m not being modest, and…I’m not). And looking back on some of my juvenile efforts more than two decades later, some of it isn’t half bad.

So, here’s the thing. I had a tolerance for writing poetry, mostly because it served as a release valve for an angst-written teenager with lots to say and no one in particular to say it to. My teachers and my cohorts were very appreciative of my efforts, which was extremely gratifying. But even when I was writing poetry regularly, I had zero interest in reading anyone else’s poetry. Traipsing through someone else’s obscure metaphors and fanciful allusions? No thank you! Does absolutely nothing for me at all.

It took me a long to come to this conclusion, but I eventually realized, “If I don’t want to read anyone else’s poetry, why should they want to read mine?” As soon as I reached this epiphany, I stopped writing poetry.

(Actually, that’s not true. As soon as I realized that poetry wasn’t getting me girls, it was getting me “female friends”, that’s when I quit. I was trying to serve a greater purpose, people!)

I’ve never gotten over my aversion to reading poetry. When I encounter it in my readings, often as a preamble to a novel chapter or as a song lyric in some epic fantasy, I just flat-out skip over it. It might as well not be there, or be text written in a wholly foreign and inscrutable tongue. Not part of my reading process. Heaven forbid the embedded poem is critical to the plot, because I’m gonna be lost if that’s the case. Poetry? Not happening.

BUT!

I do think that my earlier experience as a wannabe poet does influence my writing style. I think about word choice when I’m writing. I think about alliteration, rhythm, and repetition. I pay attention to how things look on the page: long paragraphs balanced by short paragraphs, choppy dialog offset by chunky descriptions.

I want my novels to possess some mild flavor of poetry. Long-form, mild-dash-of-poetry, but something that the reader can subtly taste when they’re reading. A lyrical flow, if you will.

So, do I think about poetry when I’m writing? Yup. Just keep the pure stuff away from me, please.

Poetry? Blech.

2 Comments

  • When I encounter it in my readings, often as a preamble to a novel chapter or as a song lyric in some epic fantasy, I just flat-out skip over it.

    Oh thank goodness, I’m not the only one. If it’s more than two lines, I’m out.

    • Ted Boone says:

      It makes for a fast read of some of the more verbose fantasy sagas. “Is that a song?” **FLIP PAGES** “Ah, back to the story.”

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