Do You Have Metrophobia?


Well, do you ?

This question may remind you of that famous conversation in A Charlie Brown Christmas that went something like this:

Lucy Van Pelt: Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia. 
Charlie Brown: I don’t think that’s quite it. 
Lucy Van Pelt: How about cats? If you’re afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia. 
Charlie Brown: Well, sort of, but I’m not sure. 
Lucy Van Pelt: Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia.
Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the
fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia? 
Charlie Brown: What’s pantophobia? 
Lucy Van Pelt: The fear of everything. 
Charlie Brown: THAT’S IT!

Metrophobia isn’t as bad as all THAT! 

But, if your heart is pounding against your favorite sweat-soggy writing t-shirt as you read a simple poetry post, you just may suffer with METROPHOBIA. 

And that is sad news for those of us who call ourselves poets because we like sharing our art. We enjoy inviting others to a good poetry party every now and then so we can slip a few metaphors into the brownies in hopes of creating a few more poetic enthusiasts.

Metrophia: the fear of poetry. It’s a real thing.   

Not to be confused with Meteorphia: fear of meteors and meteorites, especially falling ones, which might be a healthy fear now a-days.

I’m not sure why metrophobic doesn’t mean fear of cities or underground electric  railways. But, it doesn’t. So, don your reality hat and believe me this is a real fear.

Albeit unreasonable.

Most phobia’s are.

According to a survey by Mslexia, the magazine for women who write, as reported in, “one in every nine educated women actively avoids poetry as a reading experience, one in eight feels ‘intimidated’ by it and one in six is irritated because she finds it ‘deliberately obscure.’”

Just think, poets, some of our own treasured genre-writers are sweating droplets of vowels or paragraphs of declarative sentences fearing a frontal attack of poetic sentence fragments.

Poetry can be a scary place for these folks.

As poets, we need to be sensitive to our suffering colleagues, not to mention our potential readers. We need to refrain from behind-the-chapbook chuckling and rhymed chortles .

The thought of friendly scorn only feeds their phobia.

Phobia? But, I thought I just hated it! 

I believe you.

Some phobia experts claim metrophobia may even include the hatred of poetry.  But, perhaps that hate has been cultivated by unreasonable fear.  

The good news for you, dear metrophobe, is that  your fear may not be phobic at all. All fear is a matter of degree writes PTSD

Fear is a normal reaction when a meteor falls on your house. Fear is a normal reaction when a grizzly bear climbs into your camping tent. Fear is a normal reaction when a crazed lunatic is holding a knife to your throat.

If you fear a Shakespearean sonnet, that may be valid. Poets themselves have a love/hate/fear relationship with sonnets.

 But if you fear a nursery rhyme, I’d call that an imagined morbid fear. 

Phobiaman sums up a phobia as “a representation of reality that your brain has created. He gives us some insight into the cause by stating that a phobia is “usually attributed to some external learning experience outside of the control of the phobia sufferer. The logic goes something like this.

Before “X” Happened I Was Fine…
          After “X” Happened I Had A Phobia…
Therefore “X” Must Have Caused The Phobia.”

Someone somewhere rolled an eye or mocked or belittled our poetry-lover wannabes and the brain path that developed wasn’t kind to rhyme. Or meter. Or form. 

Metrophobes may have been conditioned to fear poetry by belittling teachers who expected them to know the hidden meanings of a couplet. Or perhaps our dry-mouthed metrophobe spent three weeks crafting a Porphyria’s Lover love poem, slipped it into the cute guy’s locker only to find it later shredded into mulch in the fern pot by the front entrance.  

Traumatic. Heartbreaking.  Phobic-inducing. Hate-generating. 

All we need is love.

As sensitive poets, we have a duty to our metrophic writers to enter into their pain, to connect with their fear, and to assist them in the healing process.

Understanding is key to healing the fear. Reasonable fear or the not-so-reasonable fear of metrophobia.

We also have a duty to the poetry world to hide away inside our poem closet and write a sestina about it.

Nothing is sacred. Not even our poetic fears.

Especially not those.

Rest assured, dear Metrophobes, help is on the way . . .  next post.

That will be twenty-five cents please.

9 comments for “Do You Have Metrophobia?

  1. March 25, 2013 at 1:13 am

    I love this! Love it. Besides the fact that I never knew there was an actual “fear of poetry,” I love how you’ve broken down the “root causes.” It’s strange to think that some of the things that could have led to me fearing poetry actually led me to stubbornly pursue it. I hope we poetry lovers can slowly welcome metrophobics into the fold 🙂

  2. March 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Help me please, Ms Janice! I am a voice in the wilderness wanting to come into the bright light of the poets. I will need help reaching the promised land.

  3. March 25, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Oh, Ms. Cooney. My sincerest empathy. Embrace your fear. Learn to accept it. For acceptance is the first step, my friend. The brownies are baking, the coffee brewing,my meter is running. All will be well. Soon. I assure you.

  4. March 25, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Great post, JL. I am definitely one poet who has a love/hate/fear relationship with the sonnet after trying to write one for Ms. Khara’s OLJ Form challenge!

  5. March 25, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Rolling here, Janice. I kept visualizing all of those I know, who have various phobias, including myself and stairs–please don’t get me started on that one. I’m with Khara on this and the others as well. I push through fear each time I struggle with a new form and each time I use rhyme or meter. I can sympathize with sufferers everywhere.

    This article is a keeper, for sure. (y)

  6. Becca
    March 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I wonder if I could have gotten out of Lit class in high school, if I’d said I was metrophobic… That would have been awesome.

  7. Sabra Bowers
    March 25, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Learned something new today. Reading the title, I thought it was going to be fear of cities. 🙂

    • Veronica Roth
      April 5, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Lol, me too Sabra…what are we like? 🙂

  8. Veronica Roth
    April 5, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Great post JLynn. 🙂 Well, one thing came out of all those English/Lit/Poetry classes I took: every time I don’t “get it” I ask myself, “Ok, what did I get?” Sometimes it’s just, “Hey, those are some funky red shoes that poet is wearing, they go well with his bloodshot eyes!” Oh well, you can’t win them all. 🙂

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