Thursday, April 2, 2009

Topic: Poetry

Secondary School

10-second review: You either love poetry or you dislike reading it. There apparently is no middle road.

Title: “The Language Game.” William Reynolds. English Journal (November 1975), 13-15. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Quote: “F. Scott Fitzgerald said that ‘Poetry is either something that lives like fire inside you…or it is nothing, an empty formalized bore around which pedants can endlessly drone their notes and explanations.’ ”

Comment: According to Fitzgerald, poetry is all or nothing at all. I beg to differ. There is a middle way. I like some poems. I dislike most of the poems written today. I should amend that statement. I rarely read poems published in The New Yorker, the source of any poetry reading I do today.

I have many favorite poems which I read over and over again, mostly from my English classes as an undergraduate and in my graduate classes. But when I go through The New Yorker, I read the title and the first line and if I’m not caught by either, I keep on going.

Still, I have quite a collection from my years and years of reading The New Yorker. But for the most part, poems published in The New Yorker are like its covers and many of its cartoons—I do not understand them and I do not want to spend the time to try to figure them out. Is that my fault or the poets’? And, furthermore, I enjoy reading poems silently, savoring the words, the ideas, the nuances of thought and emotion. I can’t do any of that when I hear poems read aloud.

I like poems. I don’t “love” poetry. RayS.

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