Play on Words Appreciated in D.C.

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Tonight is Poetry Night at the White House. The President and Mrs. Obama are hosting some of the most prominent contemporary poets of our time. The poets were recognized for the influence they have had on today’s American culture.The poetry event also includes an afternoon workshop designed to educate children on the art of poetry. 

Like opera and ballet, poetry is not always recognized for the beautiful art form that it is. This form of writing is not fully appreciated or understood by many. To fully comprehend poetry is to understand all that goes into the writing of it – the use of diction, syntax, imagery, irony, symbolism, connotations and more. An accomplished poet incorporates many of these writing complexities into their written piece. 

Sometimes, a poet’s work is not made public until after their death. Many poets are “closet writers” and never intend to publish their work. Poetry fulfills a need to express innermost feelings and emotions. It is used as a channel for soul searching and release. Because deep-seated emotions and difficulties in personal lives are often reflected in poetry writing, many poets are uncomfortable with revealing their vulnerabilities, and decide to keep their compositions private. The pick of words can sometimes bring distressing feelings to the reader too. 

In a town that seems to thrive on debate, even last night’s White House literary event was not without controversy. The invitation of a successful Chicago poet and rapper brought criticism. His work has been a source of contention due to the choice of words he uses in his poetry. For more information about this controversial poet, visit

Perhaps William Butler Yeats said it best about poetry “We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.”

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