When you're little, you're given five blanks. "Fill this in with your name, your favorite color, a hobby, and a synonym that describes you," they say. And that was poetry. (It was fun. You might still have it; albeit with the corner ripped off from the magnet on your refrigerator)
When you're a little older, they give you five verses. "Memorize this by October. Use emotion," they say. And that was poetry. (Of course, though, that boy right before you did it with much more feeling, and you were deathly afraid to recite it in front of everyone).
When you're in middle school, they give you a poem, some vocabulary, movies, and a worksheet. "Why can nothing gold stay?" they say. And that was poetry. (I don't know, I'm not ponyboy).
When you're in high school, they load you with poems. And some are wonderful, you daresay. and some are confusing. They're oodles of ballads, haikus, sonnets, free verse, lyrics, modernists, and you're overwhelmed. "What is poetry?" they say. And that was poetry. (In all its grandeur: feverishly scribbling rhyme schemes, wracking your head to recite what your teacher said five minutes before while everyone nods in bewilderment. You somehow walk into the library, sit through five hours, throwing out catch phrases and vocabulary words with robotic, memorized responses [paja]. You get the whole five points of the star... even in a different language!)
When you're in college, they give you poets, biographies, criticisms, approaches. And some are wonderful, you daresay. and most are confusing. More organized in presentation, maybe. "Why is poetry?" they say. And that was poetry. (And you wrack your brains trying to say something deep, while everyone nods in disagreement. Nothing can be wrong when explaining poetry. And then you get mad when you get your deserved B- for effort but fluff. [paja]).
Sometime during that time, if you take the plunge, you realize poetry talks to each other and it talks to people. You could throw the poet out the window, you could push in any allusion you want, but there's a REASON. Poetry isn't just what some poet threw off the top of his head. It was intelligently thought-through! I never thought of that. But when you realize that it too, like prose, like an essay, had thought, revisions, thought, thought, and reason, it makes so much more sense. And the ability to express with language is amazing. You try it yourself. I just did.