We are all exposed to poetry from a young age in one way or another, whether it is through Dr.Seuss’ discussion of rather weirdly coloured eggs and ham or Shakespeare’s plays with language that I don’t think anyone really fully understands, it is a big part of our lives.
Poetry then becomes more and more untouchable, with even more complicated language and references to things that no one just simply reading the poem for the first time will understand. So, when I went into my English A-level I had a hatred for poetry that I thought was pretty well justified, but after two years of hundreds of rhyming couplets and seemingly endless descriptions of nature, I loved it more than anything and I am here to tell you why.
I will admit, the story I am about to tell is boring, but it’s like the adverts in between the parts of your favourite movie, it’ll be worth it, I promise!
So, anyone who also did English A-level with the WJEC will either love or loath the name Seamus Heaney. He was an Irish poet who admittedly was one of the most big-headed people I have ever known (I say known as I was forced to read pretty much every one of his poems and learn about his life to the point where I was developing an accent). He loved to make references to Greek mythology and stories that I’m sure he knew no other person on earth would ever fully understand.
Ironically though, my favourite poem of his, and what made my fall in love with poetry, is called ‘Ugolino’. I won’t quote it here, as it is one of the longest things I have ever read, but to break it down, it is a translation of part of Italian writer Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem ‘Divine Comedy’ (a long pretty interesting poem if you have a few hours to spare!). But basically, Heaney writes about him visiting Hell, yes Hell, and observing some of the many historical figures that are trapped within one of its lowest levels. The poem itself is incredible and if you like to study poetry I would highly recommend it! But what I fell in love with was not the poem itself, but what it stands for. Heaney wrote this poem from the attic of his home in Ireland, transporting himself to a place where no living person has ever seen, traveling back in time using only a pen and paper. He shows in this poem that there are truly no limits as to what is possible within poetry, and I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind.
So, what do I want you to take from all of this? In a world where white canvases can be sold as art pieces (which I actually think they are if you look them up!) anything you write and call poetry is poetry. You could write about the waves of the Arctic Sea as a metaphor for the turmoil of the human experience, or about how you always lose the TV remote that you swear you were just holding and now you are stuck watching Antiques Roadshow (both of these are pretty similar if you ask me!) Poetry can be whatever you want it to be, a way of expressing your emotions, escaping from the real world for a while or merely as a way of recording how you are feeling in a moment.
At 12pm every night, I try to write a poem about how I’m feeling, I use the word poem loosely just to make sure you realise that these aren’t masterpieces where all the lines rhyme and include a certain number of syllables, they are just what I am feeling in the words that I use every day, nothing fancy!
So, now you have read this far, I want to set you a challenge! Write a poem right now! It doesn’t matter how long it is or what it’s about, just write something and call it a poem, it’s that easy! It could be about your phone, the view from your bedroom or what you have for dinner tonight, I think the world would be a much better place if we all saw ourselves as artists, writers, and poets and started to realise how valuable our voices and experiences are.
Let me know what you come up with! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on any social media platform @Platfform4yp. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Happy writing!