Why is it that so many people these days don't like poetry? I've seen you! The blank stare. The visible wince. The outright sneer.
I sometimes unearth a primal trauma. The sadistic nun who would whack your wrist with a wooden ruler when you failed to memorise Wordsworth's 'Daffodils'; the GCSE question on Carol Ann Duffy that utterly flummoxed you out of the A*, the annoying boyfriend at Uni who could recite Shakespeare's sonnet 'Shall I compare thee to a Summer's Day' who then dumped you for that vapid redhead.
I confess to primal experiences that were altogether other, despite being plonked firmly into a Southern California 'Not when the Surf's Up' High School in my formative years. An English teacher played us a soaring, sonorous tape of Dylan Thomas reading 'In My Craft and Sullen Art', I stumbled across a sonnet by Keats in the school library (there were such things once) and stood there for the entire study period, repeating its lines to myself in a typical adolescent stupor "When I have fears that I may cease to be...".
Often, people seem to feel about music the way I've felt about poetry. I also loved the singer-songwriters of my era: Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, James Taylor. I also liked the ironic lyrics and jazz-tinged songs of Steely Dan, and the glam-rock of David Bowie. And I look with amazement at the number of 'hits' on Youtube now garnered by popular artists. And the rappers in particular, seem to have run off with rhyme and made it their own and evolved an enviable lifestyle that involves driving in open-top cars full of gyrating sumptuous women in bikinis.
IF YOU LIKE MUSIC YOU SHOULD LIKE POETRY or as Seamus Heaney said poetry is 'The Music of What Happens'.
As an exercise, see how many theme tunes from television shows you can remember from your youth? You will find that most of them have catchy little rhymes and are indeed what a musician friend calls 'ear-worms'. They are indeed your earliest, ineradicable poems. National Theatre Wales people must be able to sing a tune from Monty Python, perhaps 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' in honour of their Christmas show, Silly Kings.
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