Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Glazed with Poetry by the White Woman

After a penultimate Poetry Writing class meeting, I feel charged with poetic energy, like a backyard messiah fired up with the suburban word, ready to spread it around.

Yeah, we talked about sex. A lot about sex. After all, what discussion of poetry is complete without a knock-down-drag-out session of sexual metaphor building?

But, first, I talked. Lectured, rather. I used my power as a professor to talk at the (un)fortunate captive audience, reading poems that have spoken to me--just a smidgen from the pantheon--about the nature of, the purpose for, the audience of poetry.

Here's the list (I only read portions, and then babbled on about why I'd chosen them, including vast patches of shameless self-promotion which I will call Whitmanic Rhapsody):
  • Song of Myself, Walt Whitman
  • "Adam's Curse," W. B. Yeats
  • Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot
  • "Asphodel, that Greeny Flower," W. C. Williams
  • "In Memory of W. B. Yeats," W. H. Auden
  • "Diving into the Wreck," Adrienne Rich
  • "The Bear," Galway Kinnell
  • "The Poem You Asked For," Larry Levis
  • "The Mountain," Louise Gluck
  • "I Go Back to May 1937," Sharon Olds
  • "The Words Continue Their Journey," Margaret Atwood
After my "lecture," interrupted only now and again by the running discourse of Asperger Boy, I asked the students to write for about 5 minutes about what they thought poetry is or should do. Their answers, shared after a small bathroom break, leaped from here to there, from the warm, loving, embracing mother/home/lover who then slaps you in the face and kicks you out of the nest, to the bottle for feelings, to the dominatrix/Old Testament god, to the conversation piece in the singles' bar.

Ever the Whitmanic wheelbarrow woman (so much depends upon/ the slickly fuckable wheelbarrow,/ glazed with hot poetry,/ next to the white woman), I wanted to pour every idea into a body and then to examine that body from every angle.

So my question now is not what poetry can or should do, or for whom, but this:

If poetry were a person, who would it be and how would you interact with him or her?

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