Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Poetry Is Alive, Deal With It Press

People on Facebook seem to be pissy or just sad about the Washington Post blog about how useless poetry is and how no one cares about it. But no one seems to be actively engaging the comments section of the WP. So, here is a link to the article:

Here is a link to my comments.
And I'm pasting them below, too:

Part of the challenge and pleasure of reading poetry is that it sets forth to offer the reader something radically new, and in turn, we have to re-train ourselves to read. Writing that tries to de-stable standards of normalcy cannot use the syntax, the language of this very normalcy. It is a language of fracture and fragment, a language that breaks down meaning to regenerate it, to reinvigorate it. A language that tries to collapse boundaries, to free us from constraints, to help us form new relationships with people, objects, places, time, and our own imaginations. As Hejinian writes, it’s a language that “invites participation.” I think it’s immensely important to take what we learn in academic studies or in our jobs and everyday life and experiment with how these histories and ideas can be explored creatively. It trains us to be open and active readers and to develop agency as thinkers and as citizens in this world.

When I teach poetry, I want my students to generate a body of work that feels and sounds like their unique personality but that also surprises them in the complexities and linguistic leaps they’ve accomplished over the course of the semester. I love this Stevens line that goes, “the life of the poem in the mind has not yet begun,” because I think it embodies the challenge and joy that many students face when they begin reading poetry. In high school and in some of their college courses, they’re taught that there is a single answer they need to discover, that there is a singular and correct way of reading a text. Poetry can show students/readers that the pleasure of the text comes from reading it numerous times and each time, gleaning more nuanced and diverse meanings, that “the life of the poem in the mind” can blossom with the multiplicity of interpretation.

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