The other day, one of my favourite people uploaded a video to her Youtube channel. It’s called Undone, and it’s about how we feel about poetry when we learn about it in school, and how amazing it can be to re-discover it and learn to love it when we’re free to interpret it the way we want.
I remember my various teachers talking about poetry over the years, and being bored out of my mind, because they managed to reduce wonderful words to nothing but assignments and homework that had us find every single metaphor and explain the words in such detail that it completely destroyed any beauty the text had. And I remember starting to write poetry when I was 12, and thinking that it had to rhyme and I had to stick to a specific structure, because all I had ever been taught was the different forms poetry comes in and not what poetry is actually about.
When I started watching Booktube videos I realised that poetry doesn’t actually have any rules. Poets can write about anything, with every imaginable style and structure. Writing poetry is not about trying to press your words into a given shape, but about creating your own, one that fits your ideas and gives them space to breathe. Don’t let anyone tell you that your poem is not valid because it’s not real poetry. There’s no such thing as real poetry. I was taught that a proper poem needs to fit into one of the default options, that it has to tick a box, and I remember how liberated I felt when I realised that no, actually, it doesn’t.
Poetry is a wonderful form of writing. There are so many fantastic poets out there, old and new, and so many collections to discover. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by what you’ve been told about the rules of literature, because there are none. It’s such a shame that so many people who could potentially enjoy poetry shy away from it because of this idea. I hope you’re not one of them.
Two wonderful poetry collections I recommend are Graffiti (and other poems) by Savannah Brown and Hold your Own by Kate Tempest.
‘Till next time and happy reading!