By Z. S. Roe
Poetry is flourishing in the Waterloo Region … apparently.
Do you believe it? Most wouldn’t. Truth be told, it’s hard to believe that poetry is flourishing anywhere, let alone here in Cambridge. Sure, some of us still read (and sometimes buy) the classics—Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Whitman, and the like—but few among us can say they’ve recently (or ever) bought a contemporary collection of poetry.
Just ask any poet still writing today—there’s no money in poetry.
And so no incentive to write it.
And yet it persists.
On Friday of this week The Cambridge Centre for the Arts is holding an “Evening of Poetry” where the winners of this year’s Poem-A-Day contest will each read their winning poem. That’s thirty poets in all—ten children, ten youths, and ten adults.
It will be an evening of family and friends, of first timers and seasoned pros, of those listening and those reading. There will be a mixed bag of emotions, as public speaking can undo even the best of us, but it will be a good time nonetheless.
Even so, the event will close with very few in the Waterloo Region having had any idea that something of this sort even took place. And that really is a shame.
Poetry offers an especially concentrated form of writing. Each poem is its own story, but one that doesn’t seek to resolve so much as it does to resonate. Poetry strives to capture the essence of a thing. It illuminates the truths and confusions of our lives. And all of this in only a few words, a few images.
In other words, poetry is powerful.
And so to know that poetry barely registers in the lives of most people is a little disheartening.
Still, there’s no dismissing the fact that poetry still thrives. If this “Evening of Poetry” accomplishes anything at all (and it certainly does), it’s to reassure us that metre, rhyme, and creative grammar aren’t just for the old and formally educated. To see the slew of children—some not even ten—who’ve laboured over their poems is to be reminded that there’s something natural, something essential to poetry. It’s not learned; it’s part of who we are.
And if our poems don’t make us any money, it doesn’t really matter. It was never the point to begin with.
*For those of you who are curious, yes, one of my poems was one of the ten adult poems chosen. If you really want to, you can read it here. Better yet, you can watch this video … er, representation of it that I made. FYI—I was naked during filming. How’s that for incentive?
Opinion is a bi-monthly column of just that, my opinion. While opinions are like noses and everyone has one, mine are especially snotty. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.