Teaching that (in)famous “Poetry”


Michael Dickel

(apologies to Marianne Moore)

Her (dis)like of poetry showed through
her pure contempt while reading it. She thought
high interpretation of the unintelligible half poets
elevated an autopsy to a false revery for birth, and
that all the academics criticize what they understand
would be detrimental to their careers. She wanted
a genuine toad, not a prince, an imaginary secret
garden, no flowers, a raw poem eaten, savored,
complete with a belch after gulping beer.

Abstract amphibious poetry
Digital art from photos
©2017 Michael Dickel

My students hate the image of an autopsy,
don’t like to consider births except in the abstract,
think if someone says “poetry,” then, poetry.
What use definitions, declinations, nuance
or inflections? Metaphors just hide the truth,
what matters comes out straight and clear.
Who cares about red wheelbarrows,
blackbirds, or pigeons, for that matter?

And certainly, they argue, we don’t dislike
all that we don’t understand.


Poetry Month begins, meaning we have arrived at

…the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. (T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland)

To begin the month-long poetry celebration here, I decided to post this poem, both about teaching poetry and about one of the most famous poems “about” poetry, Marianne Moore‘s poem, “Poetry.” Follow the links above to learn more about Marianne Moore, to read what others say about her poem, or to read poems I have alluded to here. During the upcoming (Inter)National Poetry Month, I will post more of my poems, poetry written by others, some reviews, and whatever else poetry-related comes along. I will also be lead for The BeZine‘s (Inter)National Poetry Month issue, coming out April 15. I’m a contributing editor, so I will be both editor and contributor.

What do you think of poetry? Do you (dis)like it? Can you live without it? What was your experience with poetry as a student? Did it help or hinder your appreciation of poetry? Do you read poetry? Write poetry? Leave a comment… (Yes, I know the image has a frog in it, not a toad.)


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