In Defense of Poetry: A Coping Mechanism
By Woody Woodger

1.) Midnight, Saturday February 6th, he let the cat out.  My other uncle’s cat, Alphonso. He was every inch a Persian.  The curtainy fur that looked painful when ungroomed, the kind of esthetic minutia that feels like a moral quandary.  His eyes were the same blue saved for the Mary’s dress in Ruben’s assumption and sour with crimped eyebrows.  Uncle Brad thinks his cats are his kids.  I’ve made what I feel is a fairly safe prediction: it will take approximately 3 years for Brad to get another.  With an additional 5 months for hemming-and-hawing, trying to find just the right replacement.

2.) In Percy Bysshe Shelley’s A Defense of Poetry we are audience to his designation and discussion of “reason and imagination” (856) in Romantic Era poetry. Often a fairly poetic examination itself, Shelly’s piece desires to argue there is a stark distinction between the two popular process styles popular at the beginning of the 17th century. The first of these two Shelly describes is synthesis (imagination) of the natural world in order to replicate the environment with the intention being to commune with the metaphysical and philosophical universalities inherently bound within natural phenomenon, versus an analysis and exemplification of thought as separate from their origin of inspiration (856-857).  Shelley claims that poetry acts as “‘the expression of the Imagination'” and that the poet acts a conduit, or “lyre” for the ethereal which is often inaccessible those not indulgent in imaginative expression.  Not the conduit only however, but Shelley insists the poet also creates a kind of “harmony” between the truth and imaginative exercise, becoming both the author and subject of the work (857).

3.) In the car on the way from school the other weekend my mother asked if I could help her write a letter to Kent.  She felt her explanation insufficient, that there’s a certain something to the way I say things, and hat if she were to write to him it would come out as a rant, something explicit and chideful.  I’m so mad, I just can’t put it into words she said.  I’d want him to know what he is doing to his brothers and how Uncle Brad, this grown man, was in my arms sobbing uncontrollably, and then—you know what he did—he turns to you father and say ‘Hey, I ugh got a check coming from Mass Mutual.’ while his brother’s losing it in the guest room.  Never even said he was sorry.  We purchased McDonald’s fries and a black coffee on the way. A treat, a habit.

4.) “Poetry lives and thrives in the grey area of ambiguity—the place of always becoming but never quite being.” (Ordover, 2014) In Andrew Ordover’s article In Defense of Poetry: Why it’s still Important he claimed that poetry has become a casualty of the current education process due to its lack of real world or practical application.  He says “the place where many students have trouble is the grey area” (Ordover, 2014), any place where there is no right or wrong answer to the question.

5.) Between the fry bouquet in her fist, mom recounted how he had stumbled out the door and that’s probably when the cat ran out after having crouched under the treadmill by the door, waiting a few hours for his chance.  He was either too lazy or carless, shaky, selfish to try to grab it.  He might not have even noticed.  Uncle brad thinks he took it out, bludgeoned it in the patchy snow, and disposed of him.  Mom doesn’t think so, but she’d never tell him.  Not now, anyway. I don’t think Kent’s any better even after all that time at the nursing home. Do you think he’s still drinking? Sneaking it?

I thought about colors and how green is useful in poetry for describing storm clouds or the Brazilian national anthem.  The comparisons so unexpected, and the audience would simply have to take my word for it.  Gray could be good for a sharpening wheel, a shivering basement in April.  When I thought of yellow I remembered if you look across your glasses at the door crack the shout of hall-light will bend.

6.) “I listed the attributes of the dragon and the attributes of a train, side by side, on the board. Now they kind of got it. But they wanted to know: “Was it really a dragon or was it really a train?” (Ordover, 2014).

7.) When he got back inside, she said, he didn’t even wake brad up.  He didn’t say anything.  He just lumbered back and got right back into bed.  The next morning he wakes up and says ‘oh yeah…I must have let him out, I guess…’  Any relationship they had…beyond repair.

8.) The poet exists as an agent of the imagination.  A combatant against human’s current penchant for material focus played out in the interest and advancement in the sciences.  Human’s desire to exercise control on the external places the value of the human endeavor on that with is tangible or applicable and removes the perceptive manipulation (imagination) humanity possess and so is “enslaved” by the elements he desires to own (Shelley 864).

9.) An excerpt from Mom’s letter to Kent:

Your smile looks rectangular now—a retching system of pulleys controlled by circus flees somewhere under you eye sockets, panting and desperate for a coffee break, union mandated.


This wonderful piece comes from Woody Woodger. You can find more of his work on his blog, along with his twitter and Instagram.

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Works Cited

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “A Defense of Poetry.” Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed.
Stephen Greenblatt, Deidre Shauna Lynch, Jack Stillinger. New York: W.W. Norton &
Company, 2012. 856-869. Print.

Ordover, Andrew. “In Defense of Poetry: Why It’s Still Important.” Catapult Corner: An
EduBlog. Catapult Learning, 20 July 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

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