I was 10 years old when I first realised poetry was boring.
In school we were learning about personification. Everyone had to write a poem which described an inanimate object or concept as if it were human.
I didn't like my teacher, so rather than personify the sunshine or love, as he'd suggested, I made my poem as morbid as I possibly could just to spite him.
Entitled Death, it described a war between personified death and a sickly man. A group of creatures surrounded the battle, jeering as the man tried to fight his opponent.
My rebellion backfired. The teacher loved it. Slowly and pointedly he read it to the class.
Then came the question, "What does the poem mean?" The class fell silent.
He chose a line, just after the dying man weakly stands to fight for his life, "Death's creatures bawl."
I was 10, and I didn't actually know what bawl meant. Having only ever come across the expression in the context of bawling with laughter, I had wrongly interpreted it as an expression of mirth. Death's creatures were laughing at the man's frailty.
The teacher explained that to bawl is to cry. "Why," he asked, "were the creatures crying?"
I decided to come clean and explain my error and he cut me short. "No need to lie," he said accusingly. "I'll tell them what you really meant."
He was off. He pulled out a pen and knocked up a diagram reflecting the dynamic between man and death. "At the point where the man fights back," he concluded, "he showed signs of winning. That's why the creatures are sad."
My chin was on the floor. Perhaps it was this early exposure to bollocks that left me resenting the way poetry gets treated in schools. Teaching often seems to get bogged down with textbook theory - what the poet is "really" trying to say, as if it needs to be torn apart before it makes any sense.
This bothers me because it sounds complicated. It also sounds pointless - why construct a poem if it only works when you rip it apart? Worst of all, it turns poetry into a chore.
"It's marketing," says Dan Cockrill, founder of London spoken word movement Bang Said the Gun - the weekly night which describes itself as poetry, not ponce.
"If poetry was marketed like movies, people would want to hear about it. They'd expect to enjoy it. But poetry is presented like it's tricky and dull," Cockrill explains.
This goes some way to explaining Cockrill's approach to running a poetry night. "Give me whoops! Give me hollers! Give me Mexican waves!" he cries. The audience obeys, rattling their home-made shakers and shrieking with delight. Onto the stage climbs Rob Auton, reading a poem about bell peppers. The crowd goes wild.
Bang is just one antidote to a school system which seems to go out of its way to make poetry inaccessible. It's so much fun you might forget what you're watching is literature.
"We sell it as a poetry night for people who don't like poetry," says Cockrill. "But actually it's the opposite. It's for people who do like poetry. They just don't know it yet."
Poet and musician Tim Clare adds to this: "A lot of people talk about Poetry with a capital P, like it's all one thing. Nobody advocates for Music like that. Maybe we don't like Poetry. But we might enjoy some poems."
Tim is the founder of The Poetry Takeaway. Armed with a revamped burger van and a group of poets, he's travelled the country serving up free poems.
As an exercise for the writers it's pretty stimulating - whatever the customer orders has to be included in the poem. They've got 15 minutes to compose their piece before the customer returns to hear their creation.
This is exciting for the customers too - witnessing an on-the-spot creation triggered by their own ideas offers a deeply personal connection to the work, as well as the chance to play a part in the creative process.
"I never knew my life was so poetic," muses one customer.
A dubious 12-year-old sums it up. As his poem is delivered, he breaks into a smile. "That was well good!" He says. "I thought poetry was crap."
"But we're not on some fucking crusade," Tim reminds me. For him, it's not a conversion tour - it's an exercise in penmanship.
And perhaps this is why it works so well. Poetry is a craft, and the best way to learn a craft is through active participation.
I'm grateful that a teacher sat me down and made me write a poem. I learned a lot from trying a new technique, but all I gained from the textbook analysis was that poetry can be really, really boring.
And where's the gain in that?