5 Poems Which Made Me Fall In Love With Poetry

5 Poems Which Made Me Fall In Love With Poetry Header

“I don’t enjoy reading poetry,” is a line I frequently hear from other bookworms. Poetry, it seems, has taken a backseat to the bestselling novel, as well as the catchy tunes and wall-shaking baselines of the chart music which occupies today’s popular culture.

When I mention the word “poetry” to readers who are yet to engage with contemporary poetic spaces (e.g. poetry slam events or the highly visual and artsy poems shared across social media platforms), I often unintentionally evoke memories of the poets we studied in school or higher education.

Often long dead – both in terms of the poet’s lifespan and the values expressed – these poems are more likely to alienate the modern audience as opposed to encouraging them to engage.

This is not to say that we can’t still enjoy or even prefer old poetry – I myself am quite partial to Victorian poetry. It is also possible to draw parallels between a classic poem’s sentiments and that of the modern world.

But to expect your average reader to indulge in classic poetry is like believing that everyone enjoys reading classic novels. They don’t.

Literary styles go in and out of fashion. Most readers are not interested in taking the additional time to research a poem’s historical context in order to fully engage with its meaning. They want something that speaks to them now and is about now.

They want to hear the voices of people who would have been silenced in the past. They ask for marginalised perspectives. A discussion of taboo subjects.

Therefore, in this article I have compiled a list of several contemporary poets which are personal to me in the sense that they converted me from being pretty “meh” on poetry to it becoming one of my favourite art forms. I hope that they will inspire the person reading this (yes, you!) to discover and fall in love with some new poets. I am also interested in reading suggestions for other poets I may not have come across yet on my literary travels, so please feel free to comment on this post with some of your favourites.

{Unfortunately five isn’t quite enough to cover all the poets which sparked my passion for poetry (a quick shout out to Sabrina BenaimMelissa Lozada-Oliva and Savannah Brown who would have made the list had it been longer), but I wanted to keep it short and sweet for my readers.}

 

1 – Neil Hilborn’s ‘OCD’ offers a starkly honest and open depiction of love from the perspective of someone who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Through rapidly delivered lines and stuttering repetition, Hilborn is able to convey the cyclic and obsessive thoughts which are characteristic of the disorder. He performs the poem in a way which powerfully conveys the anguish evoked by heartbreak and the breakdown of a relationship. A written version of OCD can be found in his anthology, Our Numbered Days.

 

2 – After watching Neil Hilborn’s performance of Joey, I thought that I would never come across a poem on the subject of suicide and depression that would leave me as speechless. Then I discovered Doc Luben’s ’14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes’. Luben appears to be nervous in his delivery of the poem during this performance, but I feel that it works very well considering the poem’s quirky style, and the way in which it blends together comedy and tragedy.

It is a sneaky poem in terms of how it is able to elicit an emotional reaction from the audience. It is a poem which initially presents itself as dark humour, portraying ‘madly in love’ as indistinguishable from suicidal thoughts. Then, as Luben moves further on down his list, we start to see a deeper, more emotional consideration of what it means to human and the despair that usually comes with it.

 

3 – Maia Mayor’s ‘Perfect’ carries the angsty spirit of teenagers and young adults trying to make sense of “the grown-up world” and “grown-up expectations” despite the monologue being told from the perspective of the poet’s mother. Looking at some of the comments this performance has received on YouTube, it is further possible to see how many young and struggling individuals are able to attribute the monologue to their own parent’s voice.

In the Get Lit Rising anthology, Mayor describes the poem as “[coming] from a dark place. From desperation and uncontrollable rage”. The poem provides a cathartic release for both her and the audience in its expression of failure and exhaustion over striving for unattainable perfection.

 

4 – Dominique Christina’s ‘The Period Poem’ is unapologetic and fierce in tackling this issue (what issue?). The poem is dedicated to the poet’s young daughter, and seeks to override society’s fear and shame associated with female menstruation. A written version can be found in her anthology, They Are All Me.

 

5 – Olivia Gatwood’s ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ was the first spoken word poem I came across which actively encouraged me to seek out similar works within the contemporary poetry community.

I feel that this poem will resonate well with bookworms and movie buffs as it focuses on a common character archetype within pop culture. MPDG was a term coined by the film critic Nathan Rabin in 2005 and is attached to any female character who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writers-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” (-cough- for example, Margo from John Green’s Paper Towns -cough-) A written version of this poem can be found in Gatwood’s anthology, New American Best Friend.

 

Thank you for reading (and listening)!

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6 Comments

    1. Thank you, Kate, for reading my article. Button Poetry is a great resource for introducing people to contemporary poetry. Many of the poets shared on their YouTube account discuss current and important topics I feel a young audience would very much relate to.

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