Almost all high school students I know claims they “don’t like poetry.” Or at least they wouldn’t go out of their way to read it.
In English classes, they’ll roll their eyes or impatiently tap the ends of their pencils against the surface of their desks as the teacher discusses the proper technique for poetry analysis. And, for the most part, I don’t blame them. The poems we read in class are limited, and a lot of the time, quite dull.
I don’t mean to say that all of the poems are poorly written or uninteresting. In fact, many of them are beautiful pieces of writing that, in any other circumstance, I might deeply enjoy. But one can only take so many wistful and soft free-verse poems about the emergence of spring, or maybe a man’s journey to self discovery as he finds himself through nature, before they blend into one big monotonous lump. That (combined with the excessive and overly structured analysis that most classes require) makes it really hard for many students to actually enjoy the writing, and interpret it in a way that means something to them personally; a way that makes them feel something deeper than just contempt for all of the writing they’re forced to read and don’t enjoy.
I do think that everyone who reads poetry reads it to feel something. Something sad, something warm, something familiar or strange and exciting and new. A good poem has a way of weaving itself inside of you and lingering there for days; you’ll think of it when you accidentally brush hands with the man at the checkout counter, when the thunder outside keeps you from falling asleep, when you’re making dinner and the spaghetti water boils over the pot and puts out the flame. When you read a good poem, it makes its way into everything you do.