We live in a world of lists.
A random search, on a search engine to be named when they pay me, completes “Top Ten ________________” with the following: 1) (Top Ten) Top Ten Lists, 2) Songs, 3) Destinations, 4) Names for Girls, and 5) Prison Breaks.
There truly is a list for anything, so there has to be one for how we react to poetry. If the (unfortunately) most common reaction to a washer as an anniversary gift is ‘Oh you shouldn’t have’ (with eye brows that imply the literal accuracy of this response) then near the top of any list regarding one’s exposure to poetry must sadly be ‘I don’t get it.’
If you’re reading a poem to yourself, this is permissible. But if it’s a poetry reading (for millennials: a poetry reading is like a live Facebook posting session… in a cafe… with speaking) and found yourself feeling like you didn’t get it, I suggest that there may be cause for concern.
What are, to stay loyal to a theme, the top two things people don’t get about poetry? 1) We don’t get why he or she chose to read ABC, 2) We don’t get why he or she was moved by another’s reading of ABC.
To this I would ask, Who cares?
Does it matter if we don’t get whatever someone offers of themself? Is it not simply marvelous that they offered anything in the first place?
Similarly, why does it matter whether we grasp why someone was moved by this word or that? Is it not more important that they were moved by words at all?
I offer these questions not to say that I don’t care why people are moved. Instead, I wonder how many people we let pass by because that thing that moves them is not to our particular liking.
It’s to this that I once again say, Who cares?
How much less lonely a world might this be if we connected as much with another’s capacity to love as we do with the random coincidence that they love precisely that which we already hold dear?
By all means, love the objects — Just be sure to love the subjects, and their verbs as well.