Discovering the Relevance of Words
Write some random words
Assign pretentious meaning
You wrote poetry.
(untitled haiku by J.G. Allan)
We’ve asked you if poetry matters to today’s society, we’ve asked for your favorite poems and poets, we’ve asked about hip-hop and rap’s relationship to poetry, but we have yet to stop, rewind, and ask the square one question itself– What is poetry?
To some, poetry is structure- 14 lines of ten syllables, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, or a 5/7/5 thing. To some, poetry is the freedom of thoughts. Poetry to many people is like pornography to Justice Potter Stewart, they know it when they see it.
Poetry, to me, is not structure. Is not rhythm. Is not solely sound or meter. Nor strict word choice or imagery. It is none of these; It is all of these. Poetry is emotion. Poetry is truth.
Poetry is a feeling you get while reading, while writing, while living.
Poetry is the words of Eliot, the lyrics of Kurt Cobain, the tale of Jay Gatsby or Tyler Durden, and the often irreverent, often painfully truthful autobiographical words of Marshall Mathers…
… but to say poetry exists only on paper is to deny having seen the sunset on the Mississippi, or Muhammad Ali float like a butterfly, the triumph of the Eiffel Tower, the face of a child who is truly and unequivocally happy just to be, or hearing the bells of Big Ben from a hundred feet away, or a pacific island breeze, or smelling freshly mowed grass, tasting the salt of the Caribbean ocean, hearing Samantha Barks sing, seeing Marilyn Monroe walk, or experiencing the simple, momentary miracle of oxygen entering my lungs. Because these moments are not sensations of one sense alone, these moments are life. Life is poetry.
And so I ask you, for better or for worse: What is poetry?