Reading other peoples’ poetry

May 17th, 2009 by k8gu Leave a reply »
Mobile Carwash, San Juan, PR

Mobile Carwash, San Juan, PR

This entry is dedicated to my brother Seth, who recently bemoaned his declining creativity.

Seth makes a lot of interesting points about things that may or may not have affected his creativity—resource-poor, idea-rich; lack of peer pressure (this one is brilliant, by the way); risk-averse grown-up life; personal disorganization; time-poor; adverse affects of education; etc…

I would like to counter that none of these things necessarily impede thinking creatively, although they might impede acting on that thinking to various degrees. At some earlier point in my life, an English teacher proposed that in order to be a good poet, you had to read other peoples’ poetry. I scoffed at the idea at the time. After all, poets disregarded normal rules of communication. What did it matter that you read anyone else’s work?

It turns out that it matters a great deal. Poetry forces you think about things in a different way. For me, the idea of poetry is fascinating: a “word bargain,” as another teacher once described it. But, have you ever read poetry? It’s like medicine: it might be good for you but they can’t hide the true flavor. I digress. The good news for scientists, engineers, designers, tinkerers, and people who just don’t read, is that we are surrounded by wonderful poetry written on everything we see and do. We must merely notice it and read it.

Carry a notebook, carry a camera, look with a critical and curious eye…

Are you reading other peoples’ poetry?

About the photograph: A mobile carwash system at Parque Barbosa in subbarrio Ocean Park, barrio Santurce, San Juan, PR. The red van contains a large polyethylene water tank and a pump. What problems does this solve? Create? Note locally-available materials. Definitely OPP.