Mishmash of Words

Part of teaching is pretending you love things you don't.

Enter poetry.

Last week I started teaching my sophomores the "wonders of poetry" and have been working very, very hard to give them the appreciation I seem to lack. So far we've done a few Neruda poems, (who I don't mind) which they seem to like, especially after they found out he was a commie that liked to write about the ladies. Today we compared his feelings over a lost love to a teenage romance. They loved it. My favorite part was when a kid said, "Pure? You mean like he's calling her a slut? I mean a- I mean, she sleeps around?" Times like these I kinda sorta love teenagers.

This has definitely made me reflect on my own issues regarding poetry. In college, I did everything I could to avoid poems and sonnets; as an English major this was sometimes challenging. I'm a novel girl, come on! To me, poems have always been like abstract art (oh yea, I totally understand the subtext of that huge black dot on the white canvas, god, the textures...) in the sense that people appreciate different aspects and find different meanings, but also because they can get with throwing down a mishmash of words and claiming it's a poem. For example:

The water
on the lake blows.

The balloon drifts
into the sky.

My heart soars
like a bird
floating to the heavens.
Lake. Bird. Heart.

I made this up in five seconds and it's crap, but let's say Frost or Whitman busted out something like this, everyone would be drooling. Christ, throw in a few similes, a metaphor, use some natural imagery and boom you've got yourself a poem.

"Why do we have to learn about poems?"


"To make you more well-rounded individuals who have a better appreciation for literature and the ways people can craft meaning through words." This clip sums that response up:

There are some really, really great poets out there, and I appreciate the ones who truly attempt to say so much with so little. Maybe it's because I'm not a sentimental romantic, but instead a wordy realist. Oh poetry, it's not you, it's me.


  1. Bahahahahahah I love this! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I was thinking the other day that my blogroll is a bit full of running blogs...I'm now expanding to books.

  2. Hehe... I'm the same way. Definitely can't grasp poetry most of the time. =)

  3. I always had poetry issues too...I tended to like the Victorians best, but I think their wordiness makes their stuff a little more prose-y