Thursday, October 01, 2009

Let's Try a Little Poetry

I've been trying to understand poetry. I want to understand poetry. Alas, I do not understand poetry. It's me I'm sure, but I just don't get most of it. But I'm trying.

I read somewhere that U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins put together a book of poetry for high school students called Poetry 180, designed to read one poem each day of school. So I thought I would try that. I read Billy's first poem about understanding poetry. Here it is:




Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Yes, I want to beat a confession out of that poem. I want to waterboard that poem until I get the information I need. I want to stretch it like a Stretch Armstrong until it's spills the beans on everything it's trying to say to me. Somebody help me stop the torture.

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