Poetry is a wonderful thing. As Shelley once said, it "lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar". Sadly, other than academic purposes, I haven't explored poetry in depth on my own. Rarely do I spend lazy afternoons reading poems. Growing up, most of my peers weren't really into poems, hence there weren't many opportunities to develop an interest.
This led me to wonder if people just don't read poems that much these days. Talking to fellow bookworms, I was relieved to know that nothing could be further from the truth. Poetry still, as ever, moves people. For some, the enjoyment lies in the freedom of interpretation, while for others, it's a soothing balm for the soul.
However, I came to speculate that my lack of enthusiasm over poetry might have something to do with the way it was taught at school. Niloy Saha, a student of Dhaka University, concurs, "I was never introduced to poetry from an observational or emotional perspective. It was more like something I had to study for exams." Many of us can relate to memorising the summaries of poems in textbooks, only to regurgitate all that on an exam script. Indeed, it is an unappealing way to engage with literature in general.
"We used to hold a lot of recitals of old and traditional poems that were legends, epics and historical narratives. We really enjoyed poetry because it was a way of connecting literature and stories," Preyankari Devi Devyani, a pianist, shares. She spent some of her school years abroad, an experience which helped her appreciate this literary form. "If things don't have an interesting story behind them, no one will actually want to learn about it. If you don't have good teachers to teach you about poetry and organise fun activities around it, it won't be fun."
Aside from the academic aspect, most fellow bookworms also concede that poetry perhaps isn't a popular choice for leisurely reading due to it being deeper and less accessible than prose. Mursalin Mosaddeque, a contributor for Daily Star Books, thinks otherwise, "I don't buy this myth that poetry is gradually becoming less popular. I don't see a time when it was more popular in history. It is essential to acknowledge that poetry has its root in the oral tradition. In that sense, it even precedes literacy. So, it's ironic that poetry has this association with a high-brow art or literary form."
As for poetry's apparent depth, Mursalin comments, "I don't think depth is the first thing that should come to anyone's mind while thinking or talking about poetry. What is essential and foremost is that we cherish poetry. I don't know how one can cherish anything at all, let alone poems, if all they are doing is digging depths with their analytical abilities. There is a time for it too, but that comes a lot later and only if one is eager to go to these lengths in the first place."
Perhaps more of us can take part in poetry's hidden beauty if we allow ourselves to feel more.
Adhora Ahmed tries to make her two cats befriend each other, but in vain. Tell her to give up at email@example.com