Dear friend,

It’s so wonderful to hear from you. It’s been so long.

You mentioned a great deal about poetry in your previous letter. You’re always going on about it. I’ve never understood your passion for it.

People say that poetry is art. That it teaches you to appreciate the little things, like sunsets, the sounds of birds, and the colours of flowers. That its meaning lies within its lines.

I can safely tell you that it’s absolute rubbish.

Sunsets are pretty much the same every day, squawking birds are annoying, and flowers wilt and die eventually. Why bother? It is unarguably irrational and incredibly boring. Trying to decipher its meaning is migraine-inducing, and you can still never get it right. Some poets themselves will agree with me. I remember reading about an American poet Marianne Moore, who expressed it best in her poem, “Poetry”:

“I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.”

Moreover, modern poetry is nothing compared to its older forms, and old poetry itself is utterly incomprehensible.

Poetry has been going on for centuries now, and has been devolving ever since. 

I think it’s high time we realize that poetry is dead.

Anyway, it was nice reconnecting with you. I look forward to hearing back from you. It will be interesting to know your perspective about this. 

Your poetry-loathing friend,

M.


Dear friend,

“Poetry is dead”.

I’ve missed you, old friend, it feels good to hear your strong opinions again!

Firstly, I’d tell you to seek the origin; the word “Poetry” comes from the Greek word “Poiēsēs”, which means “to create”. Creation is the essence of poetry. We adorn creation with creativity, which prides itself on diversity. Every true creation, artistic or not, is unique. Everywhere you see, poetry is diverse, in the shape of numerous forms, in the form of numerous shapes. 

Ballads! Odes! Haiku! Limericks! Soliloquies! Villanelles!

Visual Poetry! Rhymed Poetry! Narrative Poetry! Pastoral Poetry! Lyric Poetry! 

It takes various forms, in various parts of the world, but the beauty, the essence of poetry remains resolute; because irrespective of the time and place, human ethos is universal. 

 “Me. We.”

This being the world’s shortest poem by Muhammad Ali, it is not exactly conventional. But it shows how fluid poetry can be.

And that is the beauty of it.

There is no syntax set in stone for how poetry should be.

It can be however you want it to be.

The only condition is that it should stem from the heart.

And because of that, it can take any form it wants.

Poetry takes forms in wonderful ways. You mentioned how incredibly poetry bores you. Well, I’m sure a particular form would interest you. That is – a mesmerizing form – visual poetry. Intriguing, fascinating, mystifying. A child of poetry and visual arts, visual poetry has innumerable forms, and this age might be considered its greatest. Conventional visual poems were easier to define, but these days, visual poetry is breaking barriers of poetic conventionality, becoming more and more creative to the eye-appeal. This enthralling form of poetry multiplies the number of interpretations as compared to standard poetry, as it is more like a reading challenge than a favorite pastime. This form includes poems written as mathematical equations, collage poems, and even xerographic pieces that consist of no words but emphasizes the meaning built up within shapes of letters. One famous example of a xerographic piece is “jHegaf” by Geof Huth. It’ll be in the envelope with a few other poems.

Geof Huth’s “jhegaf”
George Herbert’s “Easter wings”
Eugen Gomringer’s “Silencio”
Catherine Bresner’s “American Sentence”

The thing about poetry is that it demands to be felt, it need not be rationalized, or even understood. There even exists a form of poetry known as nonsense poetry, which focuses more on rhyme and rhythm, and of course, doesn’t make sense! Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” is one of the greatest nonsense poems.

That is to say, you don’t have to make sense of poetry, because that is not the poets’ purpose. They write because they must. Poetry is for the poets to relieve their emotions, and for the readers to feel theirs. When you feel all these unnameable emotions that seem to grow in you, what’s a better way than to express them in writing?

“Trying to decipher its meaning is migraine inducing.”

That is where you’re mistaken, my friend.

Our job is not to rinse the poem for meaning, but simply read it with no preconceptions in mind, because poetry is subjective.

There is no “right meaning” to a poem, contrary to what we may have been taught. Sure, the poet meant it a particular way when penning their emotions, but the reader has the freedom to interpret it in their own right.

You see, the poets live these certain moments in their lives, live in the midst of these moments, feel inexplicable feelings. These moments turn into memories. When they begin to think about it, these memories turn to words and give rise to wonderful poems. It’s fascinating to think about how poets’ feelings turn into words that we interpret in our own ways based on our feelings and our own moments.

This goes to show that everyone can find an outlet for their emotions through poetry, because it resonates with everyone. It could mean one thing to me and something completely different to you, and that is fine.

It is the history and existence of poetry that captivates our souls. Eons have passed and poetry lovers have passed on, but the core and spirit of poetry have remained. Poetry is dead you say, I say poetry is more alive now than it ever was, and oh, so ever-evolving. And we can always relate to the poets’ thoughts, feel a sense of familiarity. The perspectives, intentions may differ, but this sense of longing persists.

It is this fluid nature of poetry that warrants its universal existence. Anything can be poetry.

It is in and around you.

The beat of your heart is poetry.

The Sun rising and setting every day is poetry.

The moon with all its lunar phases is poetry.

The mystical past of ours is poetry.

The warm feeling on a summer evening is poetry.

You, with all your laughs and tears, emotions and experiences, are poetry.

You, in all your being and entity, glory and humility, are poetry. 

Your poetry-loving friend,

W.


Aarushi Wagh, Shruti Jagdale

-Poster Credits: Giaa Poddar