I feel about poetry the same way I feel about Chinese food: While I may well find it delicious on the occasions when I partake, if you were to ask me right now if I’d like some, my instinctive response would be “No, thanks.”
I don’t recall any of my teachers encouraging me to get poetry, to savor it, to revel in it. What I do remember is occasionally being asked to memorize some — and over and over trotting out Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which I learned from my mother’s 1960 edition of How Does a Poem Mean?
While trying to never let on that it was a retread for me, I must have recited that poem every year between third grade and eighth grade — right down to the dramatic technique some well-meaning teacher had suggested:
My little horse must think it queer
[And here you might want to go toast a bagel, check the laundry, update your Netflix queue, etc., because there’s time — when I got to “stop,” I stopped.]
without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
As a children’s writer, I can think of exactly one manuscript I’ve written as a poem, a long-since-shelved piece inspired by a trip to see the full moon rise over the Davis Mountains in dark West Texas.
Its title? Full Moon Over the Mountain. How poetic.