Nonsense: A Case for Poetry

“I tested very positively in another sense this morning. I tested positively toward negative, right? No, I tested perfectly this morning — meaning I tested negative but that’s a way of saying it positively toward the negative.”

– President Trump, 21 May 2020

Although poems are often the first thing that come to mind in times of grief, or great happiness, or which bubble up from memories of childhood, most people I know do not read poetry. “I don’t understand it”, is the answer I typically get when I try to understand the aversion to poetry.

And yet, we tolerate nonsense constantly. World leaders speak gibberish on the regular, and popular media shout contradictory, self-referencing information at us. The internet is full of misquotations, poor grammar, and outright falsehoods, all presented and consumed as profoundly worth sharing.

Perhaps it’s the intricacy that people object to — the way poetry both resists narrative and perplexes it. Yet, poetry is the only honest form; truth, like poetry, is both simple and complex. It is a simple yes or no that we muddle trying to make it look like the answer we want.

Poetry is the most versatile and the most flexible written form humans have created. No better mode exists for revealing the confusions and struggles of both real-life and the life of the mind. In the cacophony of nonsense that engulfs us from both outside and within, poetry makes the greatest sense.

I find myself turning to poetry more now than at any time in the past. I hunger after words that mean deeply, and in poetry, words carry weight in every way. Everything matters in poetry: word choice, placement, rhythm, content. The poet tunes all those levers, commands all those forces to do as much work as possible in little space. In that way, poetry leaves room for contemplation and discernment — exactly what we need to sort through nonsense.

Everybody needs poetry: needs to experience words carefully chosen and precisely arranged; needs the experience of being invited in to consider words as thoughtfully as they were conceived.


Progressive Tense Cards (24)

3 thoughts on “Nonsense: A Case for Poetry

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  1. Today this reminded me of my dad. Poetry!

    He went to Carleton for linguistics, had many books of old writers; and poets. If you are interested, I could look for them to share.

    In Grade 7 or 8 I had to write a poem; and I wanted to write it about the Blue Heron. Not sure how much of the poem was mine, as thing about my dad, if I asked him for help, he would just do it for me!

    Well, that poem made it into a newsletter or magazine of some sort. Unfortunately, I never got a copy back. Not even sure if my name was on it. That’s my story! 😊

    On that note, if I made a list of what I like about you, one thing would be: Your passion and ability to write!

    BTW, how did the contest go?

    Have a great day. xoxoxo


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to read that poem! I didn’t know any of this about your dad. But he and my dad share that bit about how if I dared asked for help, he’d just do the whole project for me! Because…no patience 🙂


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