Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Poetry Escapades

I remember when I first lost interest in poetry. I was in the eleventh grade and the teacher, Mr. Williams, beat the death out of the John Keat's poem Ode on a grecian urn. We spent an entire week tearing this poem apart and discussing every metaphor and allusion and meter and rhyme. (or so it seemed at the time.) What I learned about poetry is that it is difficult, opaque and had no relation to my life. I think he hoped the the puzzle he presented to his hopeful students would some how inspire them to read great poets. You can almost hear the gush of poetry (as it streamed into to my forming brain) slow to a trickle and stop as he shut off the spigot with his lectures. I never looked back.

Poetry crept into my life once or twice after that. I had an interesting roommate for a few years in Chicago who loved to read ee cummings aloud to his assembled friends in the evenings after dinner parties. I grew to love the cadence and rhythm of cummings' poems and the magnificent way he had of stringing words together so that the sounds evoked feelings. I bought a thick anthology by Mr. cummings and love to read and remember those days in Chicago.

Oh yes, and when my husband and I were first dating he used to quote Byron to me which was very geeky and sweet.

Suddenly, my hands-off relationship with poetry has changed. I met a huge array of interesting, thought provoking poets when I started taking classes at Women Writing for (a) Change. Every week, our class opens with a poem. Although we read and discuss mostly female contemporary poets, I don't feel like I need to get out my Cliff's notes when I want to enjoy a poem. I check poetry books out of the libary, I email friends poems that I think they will like, I write poetry, and most of all my eyes don't glaze over when someone announces they have a poem to read. I enjoy...even love poems and the worlds, emotions and settings they create. The revelation is that you don't necessarily have to explain every word and understand every metaphor. Sometimes it is enough just to listen to the language or come away with a sense of emotion or place or character.
One of the things we hope to do on this blog is highlight some of our favorite poets and poetry related websites. Check out my current favorite.

What is your relationship to poetry? Care to share your favorite poem?

Amy--for The Poplar Grove Muse

PS I'm excited that my good friend Rebekah and her friend Jackie are starting a monthly poetry group called The Poetry Detectives. They hope to read and discuss poetry in a down to earth style honoring poet and reader. Please join us at WWf(a)C for the Poetry Detective Sampler Class (a sample of what the monthly meetings will be like) held on Saturday, August 8, from 10-12 at 4638 E SR 45, Bloomington, Indiana.

1 comment:

  1. I will be there on Saturday, and am very much looking forward to it! Thank you, Amy, for this post. Funny - I think I had that same grecian urn lecture!