Welcome to Intro to Poetry with your host, Shanna Early. This is going to be a great semester. We’re going to learn strategies for reading poetry that will help you to enjoy and understand poetry better. My hope is that you develop a great appreciation of poetry, not only as a unique and beautiful art form, but also as a valuable contribution to the broader artistic landscape through which we respond to the world around us.
Much of what we’ll do when we read poetry during this class is analytical in nature. We’ll be talking about what poems mean, what words, form, images, etc., are doing, how and what the poem communicates–that kind of thing. But the point of reading this way will not be to “dissect” the poem. Our aim will not be to read violently. Instead, we want to gain a greater appreciation for the artistry and energy of the poetry though understanding. As I said in class, I like to think of careful reading of poetry as a kind of conversation–the text speaks, you ask it questions (in a sense), and you listen for answers. We’re aiming for what Billy Collins describes in the first part of his poem “Introduction to Poetry,” which we read together in class today. Let’s “feel the walls for a light switch,” as Collins suggests.
In our next class, we’ll start talking about strategies for this kind of reading.