Tuesday, March 24, 2009

License

I spent a good part of the afternoon reading poetry. Worse yet, the time during which I was not reading poetry was spent reading ABOUT poetry. As I told Lisa via email earlier today, I guess it's possible that I could have a worse attitude about this class, and about school in general, but I don't really see how. Lisa's husband, Doug, also known as Mathman, is a high school teacher. Doug can consider all of his current and former students, and decide who among them is the worst and most attitudinous snotnose of the lot. That kid might be almost as bad as me. With this distinct lack of positive thinking in mind, here is a summary of my notes from today's study. They're a bit dry and scholarly, but if you take the time to dissect the obtuse academic language, you might find them enlightening.

"The Red (expletive deleted) Wheelbarrow" (William Carlos Williams, 1923)
Really? Still? Still this damn poem? I left school for twenty effing years, and The Red Wheelbarrow is STILL waiting for me? I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, Dr. Williams, by assuming that you were far better at medicine than poetry.

"Yellow Light" (Garrett Kaoru Hongo, 1982)
Hey! I like this one!

"Eating Poetry" (Mark Strand, 1968)
Dumbass hippie. I'LL feed you a poem. I have your little poetic snack, RIGHT HERE.

"Girl Powdering Her Neck" (Cathy Song, 1983)
Title notwithstanding, I like this one, too.

"Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter" (Robert Bly, 1962)
Another one that I like! Well done, Mr. Bly, very well done.

"Meditation at Oyster River" (Theodore Roethke, 1964)
Hate it with a capital H. And what is a runnel? I hate this poem so much that I'm not even going to look it up. Take that, Roethke.

"Bone-Flower Elegy" (Robert Hayden, 1978)
This one was OK. "Ruined movie-palace". My only other post-secondary exposure to poetry was a survey class during my freshman year at Temple, and I distinctly remember the professor reading Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 over and over, with particular emphasis on "bare, ruined choirs". I assume that this phrase was a shout out to Shakespeare, and I caught it because I'm just that razor-sharp.

So this is a class on critical theory, and we're considering the poems we read from the perspective of various schools of critical thought. Right now, we're studying Formalism. Formalist criticism seems to have a preoccupation with the "ideal reader". I would appear to be somewhat less than ideal in my reading of poetry.

24 comments:

Suze said...

My hats off to you for this. Poems? Unless they start with "There was a lady from Nantucket" I usually don't read them.

FranIAm said...

*Snort* I am kind of all over the place with poetry, not always a good place.

That said - I truly LOVE Mary Oliver's work.

Red Wheelbarrow - ACK!

Matty Boy said...

I gotcher ideal reader RIGHT HERE!

Well, at least I might be an ideal reader of this blog.

Lisa said...

I shall concede.
But first -
As I read this post, I was overtaken by laughter
That turned into a convulsion of coughs
That left me choking on my laughter.
They carried me away in a red wheelbarrow as I shouted about eating poetry.
It is also noted that I hollered "thanks for the link" repeatedly.
Then I suddenly became quiet as someone who is meditating on oysters would.

Okay - the cross is yours.

BeckEye said...

Poetry can get boring. But I dig Keats. He was a whiner, but he was dying, so it was understandable.

CDP said...

Suze--ha ha ha! When it's time to write a poetry paper, verse featuring Nantucket will be my topic.

Fran--Ack indeed! I can't belive that I still have to think about that poem.

Matty--ha ha! You are an ideal reader.

Lisa--see, I'd share it, but there's just not enough room up there.

BeckEye--I'm excusing Keats, Shakespeare, and Dylan Thomas from my poetry hatred. But Walt Whitman and William Wordsworth? They are so on my list.

Mathman6293 said...

Listen, your crappy student attitude could not possible be as bad as my worse students and they are not funny at all like you.

Gifted Typist said...

hmm, i wonder how accommodating critical theory would be towards the snotnosed position on poetry.

While doing my grad studies, I had two male profs who preached and published on empowerment and critical theory.

But challenge them in class to your peril.

Two bigger dickwad hypocrites you could not have met.

They taught me to remain forever suspicious of critical theorists with power.

That is why I love your post.

Gifted Typist said...

Lisa, you're making ME cough and choke. I'm dying over here.

CDP said...

Mathman--I guess I need to be a little bit badder. I'll turn the attitude up to 11.


GT--I know, she cracks me up, too. And this professor is actually very nice...I chose this section because I had him for another class last year. But I know what you mean, I encountered a few of those during my first round of undergraduate studies.

Dr. Zaius said...

I ate some poetry once, but it didn't agree with me. There were so many consonants that it interfered with my vowel movement.

dguzman said...

Your crappy attitude is similar to mine, and I majored in English. I openly confessed to teachers that I hated Shakespeare, thought Hemingway was over-rated, and dismissed all of British literature as "crap about coal mines and smog."

You're doing an excellent job!

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