Poetry: Antidote to the Internet?

There are rumors that blogging is dying. There are articles everywhere about how our brains are being affected by the internet, about how novels are becoming too challenging for the average person’s attention span. About how social media is ruining our ability to think.

It’s not shocking. I think anyone who spends time on blogs and social media has sensed all this coming on. There are beautiful writings all over the place about how people are being intentional to step away from screens and be careful about too much mindless consumption of internet content.

Lately, this has reminded me about how much I love poetry. Writing it, reading it and also memorizing it.

I can certainly enjoy a few minutes on Pinterest scrolling through inspiring quotes with marvelous design qualities, but it often leaves me feeling frazzled and aching to sit with fewer words for a longer period of time. Sometimes, it just increases my desire for silence, stillness, time to just sit without content flooding my brain.

For my day job, I’ve had to learn a lot about the kind of copywriting that works well to sell things on the internet. The kind of writing that caters to people who scan blogs. But, to be very honest. That annoys me.

I  don’t want to encourage scanning. If someone isn’t interested in taking the time to read what I’ve written, that’s fine. I’m not offended. I don’t need everyone to care about what I have to say. I’d rather have a few people enjoy truly reading what I write, than have thousands just scan some bullet points.

I am not interested in writing that can be scanned. I want things that must be savored. Food. Books. Conversation. Art. Poetry. Even things on the internet. I prefer to read fewer books slowly, than speed-read more books and articles. .

I’m interested in living a life of intention, reflection, depth and honesty. I don’t hate the internet. I am thankful to be able to connect with other people who inspire me, to hear about beautiful things that other people have made, to find resources that help me live well.

Reciting Poetry DiscountAs I have mentioned, I have grand plans to be intentional about improving and shaping my life. One of the things I want to integrate into this plan is to spend time memorizing poems again. It’s a mental exercise and a spiritual practice I have not recently been doing and I miss it.

In April, while visiting my sister in San Francisco, we went into this enchanting store that was offering a National Poetry Month related discount. The photo here is an actual picture from the store. They had a microphone set up and whenever anyone was willing to recite a poem, they would turn down the music and everyone in the store would stop and listen to the person at the mic.  I purchased a necklace and received 50% off for reciting One Art by Elizabeth Bishop.

To be honest, I didn’t recite every stanza and the ones I did remember were incomplete. Except for the first stanza:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

The poem is elegant, ironic and lovely to the ear. And I plan to re-commit this poem to memory this month. One thing I know I don’t want to lose… the mental ability to focus, to remember, to think deeply about one topic or one image and let those thoughts simmer.

Of course distractions will always abound. The internet did not invent distraction. It just capitalized on it, I suppose.

I’d like to suggest poetry as an antidote to the internet.

You can start here, with one of my all-time favorite poems ever by Wendell Berry. And then, try this one by Jeffrey McDaniel. And then get some fresh air.



Posted in Poetry

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