A meditation on poetry . . .
In my experience, students either love it or hate it.
A former student of mine once described poetry as “Satan disguised as text arranged strategically on a page." Fortunately, that was before taking this course, but I'm not sure he felt much better about poetry afterward.
In her 1921 poem titled "Poetry" Marianne Moore wrote, "I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle. / Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine." I like this, but what on earth does it mean--"a place for the genuine"?
I "found" a poem once. It arrived in an e-mail from the University's facilities and maintenance. I'll post it here once I "find" it again.
William Carlos Williams's poem, "This is Just to Say" is an example of a kind of "found" poem:
This is Just to Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Williams's poems raise the all-important question, "What is poetry?"
Here's a poem by Billy Collins that raises another question, "Why teach it, why write about it?"
Introduction to Poetry
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.