One of the wonderful things about being a college student is the exposure to new artists. Say what you like, but writing is an art that is worthy of appreciation. Poetry takes a level of experience with words and language and recognition of cultural needs that is often underestimated and underappreciated.
Having to take an American Poetry course this semester has opened my eyes even wider to contemporary or modern poets. In examining today’s view of poetry, I came across Saeed Jones.
Saeed is an editor for Buzzfeed, which I am sure rings more than just a few bells, but he is also a writer in his own right. In his debut collection of poetry, Jones addresses issues faced by many individuals in society today. His poetry attacks gender, race, and sexual identity head on in a way that leaves readers thinking, wondering, and in awe of his masterful use of words.
To say that Saeed Jones’ poetry is intense, is an understatement. Each poem takes readers on an emotional ride and just as soon as you are recovering from one ride, you are hit with another.
And if you come across an audio of Jones reading his own poetry, it is mesmerizing. The inflection in his voice and emphasis on just the right syllable put you into a trance. You can feel the words. They hit you at the core.
His poem, “Lower Ninth” was by far one of my favorites and has not received enough attention for the masterpiece that it is. While his poems “Boy in a Whalebone Corset” and “Mercy” are equally striking, “Lower Ninth” hit home for me.
With the tagline “New Orleans, March 2011,” it is no secret that this poem is addressing the result of Hurricane Katrina 6 years after the devastation it caused to the beautiful city. I am from south Louisiana. I have seen the destruction and I have friends that lost everything they owned. I watched while the country helped and while the city drowned. I was lucky. The only affect the hurricane had on my life was due to my academics and I look at that now as a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t ready for college then like I am now.
Saeed hits home for me with “Lower Ninth” but he hits home for so many throughout his collection. He addresses the loss of his mother and it is palpable in his poetry. You can feel his pain and you grieve alongside him. He speaks of being a gay man and while I can’t personally relate to him on this note, I understand his struggles because he is placing me in his shoes through his words.
Poetry isn’t for everyone and I will be the first to say I often neglect contemporary poetry. The “classics” are more enjoyable to read and digest, but Jones takes contemporary poetry to a whole new level.
If there were ever a book of poetry to be read, this is one of them and I am happy to have come across his collection.
And now Amazon suggests poetry for me to digest, and I am perfectly okay with that. Especially if I come across more poets that leave me feeling their pain and joy the way that Jones has managed to do.