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Student columnist: What poetry can do

Student columnist: What poetry can do

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Sophia Chavanu

Sophia Chavanu

As the transition from the holiday break into the hustle and bustle of the new year has begun, I have found my mind heavily consumed by poetic verses, words and even voices. It has invaded my mind from day to day. Now, by no means is the subject of poetry and reading poems new to me; I have an entire shelf in my room dedicated to my growing collection of poetry books. However, this amplified obsession that has come over me over my spare time is not like any fascination I have ever experienced. It was screaming at me, saying: “look at me more closely! I will listen to your soul and then I will heal it!” Indeed it did.

Poetry is an art that is oftentimes neglected and overlooked. It can persuade, impact and inspire in a way that is unlike any sport, movie or book. As a writer, I can wholeheartedly admit that it is much more difficult to convey my thoughts and feelings in this more “straightforward” style of writing. Correct grammar doesn’t do the job as thoroughly as free stanzas do. I don’t want to say “I’m not having a good day, and I just feel sad.” Instead, I’d rather say: “My day has been a bowl of cereal without enough milk in it and I feel like a melting ice cream cone.” It may not be as proper, but it is perfectly precise to what I am feeling.

There is a recurring stereotype that comes with poetry. Either it’s too old, it doesn’t make sense, it is boring to read, or it plainly has too many rhyming words. Sure, it might not be for everyone. After all, is any hobby for everyone? I would choose to do plenty of other activities before watching any sort of sport; it’s just a personal preference. However, there is no denying that writing exceptional poetry takes a writer that has an eye for elegance and beauty in their words, and also knows how to use rhetorical and literary devices expertly. Share a poem with the right person, and you can have them in tears (I’ll admit that there have been many poems that have left me in tears). In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, there is a part where Mr. Darcy says “I have been used to consider poetry as ‘the food of love,’” which Elizabeth Bennet responds with: “Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.” The subject of poetry was much more prominent during this time, but from one poet to another, I think a poem still has the ability to make someone fall in love with you or drive someone away from you. Despite all of this, reading poems from a book or from a handwritten note from an admirer is only half of the impact poetry can make on a person.

I remember once hearing from someone that poetry was meant to be read aloud, and now I am truly realizing that they were 100 percent right. There is a whole world of poets today who don’t limit themselves to writing books, but share their work aloud in a way that brings a whole new meaning to their words. I wholeheartedly recommend watching at least one video of slam poetry even if it means stepping way out of your comfort zone (I suggest watching "I Want to Be" by Maia Mayor). If I had one opportunity to inspire hundreds of people at once, it would be through sharing a poem on a stage. Why? Because poetry brings justice to the words written on a piece of paper. It can give you a voice. It can spread awareness. It can share with someone what you always thought you should hide. It can empower you. It can make sense of a messy thought and a confused heart. It heals. That is the power poetry has.

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