Last week I decided to begin teaching my son about poetry, since he’s approaching his 14th birthday and I fear his emo phase is imminent. I don’t want to give him any ideas that encourage him to start writing mopey teenage poetry; I just want to make sure that if he ends up stumbling into it, he has the resources to turn out decent stuff. A youth full of angsty poems begets an adulthood spent cringing over them, and as a parent, I need to be proactive about such things.
Using this handy guide from Book Riot I began walking him through the many different styles of poetry: the melodic villanelle, the minimalist haiku, the somber elegy, and so forth. My son’s response to this most important of lessons was, “Why do I need to know any of this in real life?”
“There’s plenty of good reasons!” I replied. “You might, um, take a poetry class in college, so why not be prepared? But remember: if you want to start experimenting with poetry, you really should wait until college.”
“Did you take poetry in college?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “and look at me now: a published author and professional writer!”
“So what are you working on right now?”
“A taste test of healthy frozen pizzas!” I said proudly. And then we just sat quietly for about a minute.
He then asked, “When was the last time you wrote a poem, mom?”
“Well, I kinda wrote one last week about free Little Caesars Crazy Bread.”
“And before that?”
“Last year I wrote one about Red Lobster.”
“And before that?”
So, he got me. In my attempts to get him to use poetry responsibly I had completely overshot the target, accidentally exposing it as an impractical skill, one he should devote no time to studying. Unless...
“You know what, buddy?” I said. “You need to learn poetry, because there’s poetry to be found in just about everything. Even in... healthy frozen pizza.”
“You’re not really going to do this, are you?” he asked.
And I said, “Watch me, punk.”
So, I hope you’ll all join me here on The Takeout tomorrow to learn a little bit about healthy frozen pizza, set to verse, and in the process, we can all demonstrate the importance of poetry to my son. I bid you a Merry Wednesday.