Poetry and why I hate it. In honour of World poetry day (yippie!)

Dust off you beret, grab a fresh turtle neck, tune your bongo drum and run those skinny jeans through a hot wash and tumble dry for extra tightness because its WORLD POETRY DAY.

(For the remaining 4 hours here in Australia anyway. Which, if you’re a poet, you’ll end up using all of them because you’re so tortured that you can’t sleep. Fie upon this cruel world, that one must chase slumber by emptying the mind of the burden of reality!)

So what is World poetry day and why should you care about it?
My short answers are ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I don’t know.’
My long answers are ‘I don’t know but you probably shouldn’t encourage poets’ and ‘Honestly who gives a fuck? Certainly not this guy.’
Mean, abrupt, uneducated. Sounds like me. You can bet I didn’t plagiarise that description.

Anyhoo, a quick google will tell you that World Poetry day is ‘Monday, March 21st’ which is about as helpful as a ‘Left turn only’ sign on an L bend street.
That turns left.
Shut up, you get the picture.

A more thorough search will get you to Wikipedia which will say the following at you.

‘The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements”.’

In short, ‘Go jerk off a poet to show that you appreciate them.’
It’s basically steak and blowjob day for poets.

I don’t hate ALL poets. Then again my three favourites are Poe, Lovecraft and King. The father, grandfather and great grandfather of modern horror. And not strictly poets, they just dabbled. Except Poe I suppose.
Also I like Bukowski. But then again what self-deprecating nihilist doesn’t like Bukowski?
My point is, with the exception of Poe, they were all writers first and poets second. Because who wants to be known as just a poet.

I’m probably being too harsh, and that’s likely because I don’t get poetry.
Much as I wrote earlier about not getting art. I can decipher it, I can appreciate it to a degree and I can sit down and read it. I just don’t understand its purpose and for the most part its structure.

And here’s why.

When I was a young larvae our school in Tasmania tempted an Australian poet to come and talk at us through a system of monetary compensation for time. After watching the daily hanging down at the gallows in the schools quadrangle (it was Tasmania in the 90s, don’t ask) we were all filed into a classroom and asked politely to sit down and shut up while we waited for this, Poet, to arrive.
We elbowed each other in the ribs and made strange faces and sounds as was the custom of young children when not being distracted by bright lights and colours. (You don’t see it much anymore these days because of those fandangle intelligent phones or whatever.)
In walked this crew cut stone faced nugget of a man. Fully decked out in a plain black t-shirt, blue jeans and work boots. We thought it was the new janitor till the teacher introduced us to today’s special guest.
The Australian poet, Geoff Goodfellow.
I had no idea a poet could look like that. Or sound like that. Or shout at children like that.
No shit, he shouted at me and a friend because we weren’t paying attention. He basically told us to fuck off out of the class if we weren’t going to listen. Which was back before political correctness ruined classrooms so he could get away with it.
Also the teachers were too scared of him to tell him off. But more importantly, I was too scared of him to say another word. I just sat and listened.
And I hated all of it.
Understand me when I say that Geoff Goodfellow is an amazing poet, he speaks in terms the average man can understand. He doesn’t mince words. He appeared to me to be the real working mans poet which is a weird called because most classic Australian ‘working men’ really don’t give a crap about poetry but, he would MAKE them give a crap. But I still hated it.
The reason I hated it all was because of his explanation of introduction to his current profession.
After a crippling back injury building houses, Geoff was at home trying to get somewhere and had a tumble. He knocked over a stack of books and was relegated to the floor for the rest of the day until someone came and rescued him. Not having a smart phone back in those days, he decided to read the books to take his mind off what I’m certain was agonising pain. I mean why else wold you willingly read poetry all day. And in doing so, he realised that, they’re just words. Strung together. Half the fucking time they don’t even make sense. And it suddenly dawned on him.
You don’t need to be a genius to write poetry, and old idiot can do it.

Right then and there Geoff Goodfellow shitted all over my previous perception of poetry as some sort of lyrically based word-smithery wherein one must carefully and meticulously construct prose so that it flows with a delicate underflow of rhythm.
Nah mate, just put words on paper and do it with passion.
So, in his 30s, Geoff embarked on the life of a poet. And as it turns out he was pretty friggin good at it.

I didn’t like Mr Goodfellow at the time, I dubbed him the ‘Semaphore Psycho.’ Because he wrote poems about his home town of Semaphore and just SHOUTED the word at you. And also told stories of bar fights where dudes got their eyeballs scooped out with teaspoons and stomped on. I pissed a little.

But now that I’m of a similar age to him when he started (and probably at a similar skill set) I really respect the man and will endeavour to read more of his material.

So there you go. World poetry day and why I hate poets but respect Geoff Goodfellow and his talent that was grown of humble beginning, in a nutshell.

And also how he shouted at me when I was a child and earned my fear and contempt that has gradually festered into a tight lipped respect.

And once again I’ve completely missed the point.

Go read some poetry. It’s just one day a year.

(Disclaimer: I’m almost certain that’s how Geoff came into poetry. There may have been some other details but I’m doing this one off memory and I haven’t been kind to my brain over the years.)

– Jacob

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