I’ve written some shocking and cringe-inducing things in my life. I’ve laid my ugliness out for everyone to pick through and comment on thoroughly. I’ve told you how I hate sex. I admitted that I was a racist for most of my life. I took you through, in vivid detail, the night I tried to kill myself. I’ve talked about my misogyny, my ignorance about politics, the void in my education when it comes to literature, and how I lost weight without trying.
I’ve given people reason to dislike me in the past. I haven’t always been the model human I am now.
But, I know I’m finally going to admit something that will cause a mass exodus to the unfollow button. I will lose half of my friends on Facebook, and people will leave my mailing list. What I’m going to say is going to upset some so much they will take to the streets and make the protest in Hong Kong look like a Sunday picnic. But, someone needs to finally be honest about this.
I hate poetry!
After you lift your jaw from the floor, you may think you didn’t read that right. Am I not the person who reads and claps for all my wonderful poet friends and leaves such wonderful comments about how much I enjoyed experiencing their words?
I am, but I have to finally say, once and for all, that poetry doesn’t do much to light the fires in my mind.
I haven’t always had a dislike for sonnets and Haiku. When I was a younger man, I filled notebooks with my poems. I wrote rhymes to beautiful playmates, professing my love in as few words as possible. I even once sent a poem to my teacher, Miss Boatner, confessing my love for her long chestnut hair, sparkly green eyes, and fire-engine red 1968 Mustang parked in the teacher’s lot.
Poetry was my first experience with writing, and I embraced it as much as the brain of a 7-year-old could at that stage in my development.
I soon moved on to fiction and short stories. Science fiction and fantasy held most of my attention, but I also read Stephen King under the covers at night — a flashlight clamped between my shaking hands. I even attempted to write my first book about a camping trip gone wrong in the bayou of southern Louisiana. I was all about scary chases through the woods many years before Blair Witch came out in theaters.
I soon graduated to the writing that would obsess me for the rest of my life: the personal essay. Talking about my life has always been attractive to me even before I had any life experience to write about. I was good at embellishment back then because I recognized that nothing I’d done as a child was noteworthy (I don’t have to embellish anymore).
I wanted to write about it anyway.
More and more, I looked at the fanciful disciplines like fiction and poetry as unnecessary. I knew where I wanted to focus and it left very little room for other pursuits.
My decisions shaped my writing
I know my choices in reading material inevitably hurt the way I developed my writing voice. I know people with more varied interests in reading have a better vocabulary and understand the way to spin a story properly.
Sure, I read fiction and poetry, but I didn’t devour it to the degree I immersed myself in biography, memoir, and essay. I’m playing catchup now, trying to mold my voice to make it pleasant and exciting to my readers. I see writers who seem to have the spark and write in such an effortless and enticing manner that they draw all the light from around them into the work on the page.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to make up for the lost time. I say I hate reading poetry, but I read it because it makes me feel things and explore parts of my mind that would normally hide from me.
Still, it’s a hard habit to break, and if I am combing a Facebook thread for something to read, and I have the choice between a poem and an essay, I’ll pick the latter every time.
How you can help people like me
If you are a poet, please keep publishing. Every day I want more and more to read things that cause me to laugh and cry. I want to swim through the words and come out on the other side learning something new about the author and understanding their world a little better.
Please don’t feel that people like me are ignoring you. Your work has as much if not more value than an essay. Don’t let the fact that some of us prefer to read other types of writing and tend to flock to the easily-digestible fare more often than not.
The internet needs more poets and fiction writers. The past ten years have seen us bombarded by boring digital marketing topics and pseudo-self-help-mumble-jumble. We need more people building worlds that make us think, make us angry, and make us act.
Don’t ever give up your passion because a washed-up, gen-X spin-doctor says in a Medium story that he hates poetry.
Write that next poem — publish Haiku — craft sonnets.
Make sure you send me your link and tell me how much I’ll like it.
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Jason Weiland is a writer, blogger, freelancer, and mental health advocate living a dream life in a place he only dreamed of as a kid. He talks about difficult issues but has never lost his sense of humor or willingness to understand others and help when he can.
He would love to connect with you on social media.