My relationship with poetry

I’ve always struggled to take poetry too seriously. Poetry has always been something that I’ve derived great joy from reading and writing but also despised. The poet has always been a very enigmatic figure to me and I’ve toiled over understanding my true viewpoint on the topic. (Are poets writers? Or moreso artists?) I write poetry as an emotional expression and as an art form…so sometimes it is hard for me to apply literary criticism in the same vein that I would an essay. Some of the time, in a poem, the poet decides to place certain words places because they have nice aesthetic, not necessarily for any “deeper meaning”. So then it becomes hard for me to do poem analysis because I’m not sure how much I should be “reading into” the poem. I’m sure this is something I have to sit and think about more and hopefully come to a definitive answer further on down the road.

2 Replies to “My relationship with poetry”

  1. I think that it’s important to just appreciate a poem rather than always having to delve into the deeper meaning. Last semester I took ENGL 203 with Doggett and I’ll never forget a story he told us about one of his college professors. Doggett and his prof were discussing “deeper meaning” within a poem, and the professor stopped and said how there can be deeper meaning, but sometimes “It’s just a f***ing poem.” While this is comical, I also think that there is truth to what the professor inappropriately said. Sometimes a poem is just meant to be appreciated the way it is on the page, rather than “read into.”

  2. Great questions, Sara, and reply, Arianna – that professor’s right!

    But I think there’s two senses (at least) of “deeper” at play here. You could think about deeper meaning, which suggests analysis or even hidden code – or you could think about the amazing layers a poem has, just how intricate and beautiful such constructed language is, and the astonishing ways it happens on the page – this second sense of “deeper” is what allows us to geek out over punctuation, or a particular image, or a particular control of sound.

    After all, don’t we want our readers to get under the surface of the poem just a bit? If our reader reads the poem once, straight through, and says they like it, is that enough? Or don’t we want the poem to last inside the reader, to resurface when she’s not expecting it?

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