Monday, January 18, 2016


I'm teaching two sections of a new (to me) class this semester. When they originally (and fairly at the last minute) threw me into Reading Poetry, I was scared. Not only was it fairly short notice on a class I had never taught class before, I had never actually taught poetry at all. Moreover, as it was a more advanced class than I normally teach, I knew I needed to do a good job. After deciding on a text and entering the initial planning stage, though, the fear turned to excitement. This was gonna be fun.

Of course, that excitement doesn't preclude more fear. I had vast plans this weekend to get my week's lesson plans knocked out early. However, I then got sick and spent most of the weekend scrunched up under a blankie. Today, I had to definitely get the Tuesday class lesson plan done, lingering exhaustion or no.  So I plowed through the material, and guess what? The panic returned.

The problem is that all poetry texts start off with the "how to analyze poetry" sections, and said sections are always the stuff like "all about imagery" or "figures of speech." This has always bored me. I understand the concept of introducing basic terminology, but the implied resulting action pushes poetry towards taxonomy. As an example, one of the poems in tomorrow's reading actually had a discussion question which asked students to circle all verbs and tie them into symbolism. Blech.

This kind of ruins the fun of poetry in my mind. It would be like thinking one could understand all the foibles of humanity by studying anatomy/physiology. One would gain a certain amount of knowledge, but it would be relatively pointless knowledge, suitable for no more than some contemporary card catalog of terminology...and that ain't poetry.

I was slogging through the readings for the second time, though, when it finally hit me. I heard the kettle drums of my psyche pounding. The fluorescents in my study somehow narrowed to a pinhole spot aimed directly at my cerebellum. Choirs of angels (who mysteriously rang out in a voice reminiscent more of Ronnie James Dio verse than of a Handel refrain) chanted. I knew how to tie it all together. The answer? Film director Edgar Wright.

I'd tell you more, but I, in the spirit of a good poetry reading, am more interested in your interpretation than any literal truth.

1) Please identify all uses of irony, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, paradox, and any other figure of speech and spell out the role of these devices in explicating the "epiphanies" mentioned in the title.
2) How would other poets have tackled the same issue? How is their particular use of tone different than in this piece?

No comments: