1. It’s low-maintenance. Novels are best enjoyed on the beach, in your bed, or on a long flight. But you can’t exactly crack open the latest Dan Brown book at your desk and expect to procrastinate discreetly. Novels demand hours of your undivided attention and the right setting for binge reading. Poetry, on the other hand, fits into your space. Whether you have two minutes or an hour, reading a good poem is like putting on makeup – it will take up the time you give it.
2. It’s efficient. You could read an entire Shakespeare tragedy or get the same effect from five lines of Bukowski.
“in the sun and in the rain
and in the day and in the night
pain is a flower
pain is flowers
blooming all the time”
-Charles Bukowski, my garden
3. You can tweet deep stuff. If you read enough poetry, you’ll find plenty of great one-liners to tweet. On Monday morning you can tweet “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” (T.S. Eliot) and people will think you are deep as fuck.
4. Plots are overrated. Sometimes we pursue art for entertainment and sometimes we’re looking for something resonant – whether it’s a powerful insight or a lasting image. If you find yourself craving the latter, poetry is a quick fix. Without the constraints of characters, setting, conflicts, etc., poetry is free to do whatever it wants. Which means you can get to the flesh of the thing faster.
“I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold”
-Williams Carlos Williams, This Is Just To Say
5. Poets were the original hipsters. Modernist poets were the original hipsters, casually looking around and dismissing everything as meaningless. T.S. Eliot was so “over” the mainstream, he deemed it all The Waste Land. And you can’t get more hipster than J. Alfred Prufrock, wearing white flannel trousers and parting his hair behind. What should he do, eat a peach? Fine, but let him VSCO Cam it first.
6. Being pretentious is fun. Want to impress people? Recite Mary Oliver’s Peonies from memory. As you’re reciting, “This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart,” you’ll be well on your way to breaking every heart in the room. Damn, that girl knows some beautiful poetry. Damn right, she does.