Wednesday, March 22, 2006

FishFrog on Poetry

I own one book of poetry. Just one. Like everyone else in America, I was forced to study and appreciate poetry in public schools from middle school through high school. I was taught what different forms of poetry were, I was forced to write my own haikus, couplets and sonnets, and I was made to read the writings of the "masters." As a result, I eschewed poetry for many years.

But as an undergrad, I stumbled across some poetry and gave it another chance. I purchase a book from Barnes and Noble, and for the past few years, every once in a while, I crack it open to a random spot and read. Sometimes it really speaks to me, and last night was one of those times.

First, a note on how I now approach poetry. I just read it. Sometimes aloud to myself or to Nell. But I just read it. I don't analyze it for patterns or similes; I don't try to decode any hidden metaphors; I don't try to solve it like a puzzle. I just open the book and read. I find its better to read slowly, not really thinking but just leaving yourself open emotionally. I find this is easier and more rewarding after a couple of shots of bourbon, but it also works if you happen to be in a sensitive state at the time. The best time to read poetry is when your emotions are stimulated; either depressed, happy, regretful, joyful, anything. Also, I prefer to read when it's dark outside.

I want to return to something I just mentioned, which is that I prefer poetry when I'm inebriated. This, I think, really illustrates the problem with the way most public schools teach poetry. In school, I was taught to approach the poem intellectually. To think about whether it had the requisite number of similes and metaphors. Whether it had contrasting themes in opposition. Some poems were good and some were bad. While it's still true that I like some poetry and I dislike most poetry, I now understand that the poetry I don't like isn't BAD, it just isn't for me.

The great thing about the booze is that is forces you into a state in which you can more easily be emotionally receptive to the poem, and it helps shut down (or mute a little) your intellectual facilities. This is especially important to those who, like me, tend to think a little to much. This may mean that the poetry I like would not be very enjoyable to others. But that's ok. There's a lot of poetry out there.

What I really wanted to do in this post was to post this one poem that really makes me feel something. It's a little long, though, so I thought maybe I'd just put up a snippet. But I don't think that's a good idea. So I may post it later, or I may not. I really don't know.


Blogger Arfanser said...

Just post the thing.

11:12 AM  
Blogger warm fuzzy said...

When I'm finally a teacher, I'll serve FishFrogs as we read peotry in class.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Xeno said...

Just warn me ahead of time to the poetry so I can get drunk for it.

4:50 PM  

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