- 94% of Americans have read poetry at some point in their life, but only 15% read it consistently throughout their life.
- Almost 85% say poetry is hard to understand.
- Almost 81% say poetry is boring.
- Yet more than 70% say poetry helps you appreciate the world around you.
I'm going to connect the dots here and suggest that, based on these statistics, if people understand a poem, chances are they'll enjoy it. That's the premise upon which I based the launch of Your Daily Poem, a website that went live June 1st with the sole purpose of presenting uplifting, easy to understand poetry to people who were not predisposed to like it. And to paraphrase and repurpose Sally Field's worn but fitting cliche, "They like it! They really like it!"
I am tickled pink...or fuschia, if we want to be more poetic....to report that, four months after its birth, the number of subscribers to Your Daily Poem has septupled (is that a word?), poets published and un are submitting wonderful work on an almost daily basis, and people are passing around featured poems like juicy gossip. It's enough to make a poetry lover giddy.
Why bother, you may ask, or who cares? It comes down to this: life's hard most days--especially these days. Whether you're a young mother struggling to make ends meet, a working stiff trying to hang onto your job, a retiree worried about health and Social Security, or a corporate tycoon just having a bad day, we all need something to lift our spirits, make us laugh, stretch our imagination, take us away, or resurrect a fond memory. Poetry can do all that. But for too many of us, poetry got a bad name because someone made us study something awful in a classroom, or we opened a Revered Poetry Journal and were befuddled, repulsed, or bored by what we found inside, or we went to a reading and were embarrassed, offended, or bored by what we heard.
So this is my plea: give poetry a second chance. If you think you hate it, go to Your Daily Poem and click around in the archives. Read Ellen Bass's account of a mid-life couple smooching at an airport. Read the condemnation of little girl's beauty pageants on July 21st ("the stench of pink:" what a great line!). Read about an Elvis sighting in the peanut butter aisle at Shoprite, or the bliss of a perfectly ripe avocado, or the smell of oregano in a grandmother's kitchen, or the feel of your beloved's curls against your pillow.
Believe me, poetry is alive and well at YDP and it's not boring. It's heartrending, and hilarious, and touching, and titillating and--big bonus!--not even remotely connected to health insurance! Come discover poets from around the world whose work will definitely help you appreciate the world around you--one wonderful word at a time.