English 301: Reading by Albert Rios

I found section 8 in the reading for class by Albert Ríos discussing how the line is like furniture that makes up a room the most interesting. To me, that implied that one way to think about a line is as a complete idea in itself, like an entire piece of furniture. However, in addition to that, a line also has a function in the poem, like a stove has a specific reason to be in the kitchen. So, a line could be an entire sentence, or just a part that has a certain idea, so long as it forms a complete thought or image. I also thought it implied that each line should be important to the poem, and therefore would have some crucial idea for the rest of the poem. Whether it’s an interesting metaphor related to the poem’s topic, or information needed for the poem to make sense, each line contributes to making the poem make sense all together, even if different lines have different approaches to do so.

Although I don’t think either of those ideas from the reading have to always be true for every poem, I thought they were good ideas to use in future poems I write. Overall, I enjoyed how the passage spoke about ways for the line to function in the poem as a whole. Like a piece of furniture compliments a room, one way to think about a line would be for it to be a complete thought itself, but also help make up the entire room. It made me think that I should look over my poems for this class and look carefully at every single line and see what that line does. Is each line important to the poem? Why is that? I think often, I have lines in poems that don’t follow the ideas Albert Ríos discussed in the reading. Often, lines are either not interesting on their own, or aren’t very important to the poem overall. So, if I find a line that isn’t, maybe then I should consider it so it’s more like an entire piece of furniture, or an entire thought. Overall, the passage made me conclude that a line should be compelling by itself, as well as being a part of the poem.

“Some Thoughts on the Integrity of the Single Line in Poetry” by Alberto Rios

“Dear poets,” Lytton began his email to the class. “Poets.”  

While I admit that I do dabble in poetry, I would be the last to call myself a “poet.”

This title is both daunting and an honor. Personally, I still feel naive when it comes to writing and reading poetry; I have yet to learn the ins-and-outs of the trade. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my creative writing classes is to “show, don’t tell.” As I contemplate the work of many poets, I drool over there well-crafted abstractions and the depth they oh-so-carefully weave into their writing. The lines composing their poems require multiple readings, as well as time spent pondering them. I feel as if my poems lack this; however, after reading A Broken Thing, I have a new perspective on poetry. Alberto Rios claims that “If you have to tell your reader, just keep reading, it’ll all get clear in a moment, then you are writing prose.” He also believes that you should not play “tricks” on the reader. I, humbled upon reading this, realized that perhaps my idea of a commendable poem, is slightly askew. I always believed that poetry was a process in which the poet took an idea, then added enough frill to make its message barely recognizable. I now believe that this is not the case, instead, every line should be able to contribute concise meaning to the poem, instead of acting as unnecessary furnishings. Now, instead of trying to make my poems aloof and convoluted, I will make it a habit to keep each line straightforward. Perhaps, after adding clarity to my poems, I may accept the title, “poet.”