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.