Friday, November 11, 2011

"Press An Ear Against Its Hive"

"Introduction to Poetry"
by Billy Collins
from his collection Sailing Alone Around the Room

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


In many of the creative writing classes I've taken, I've had to submit original work for critique, which I enjoy quite a bit. It's always interesting to see how people interpret my work. I'd never say that they interpret it incorrectly because the beauty of art is there isn't just one right answer. But individuals interpret pieces differently.

Often I write poetry without any certain direction or meaning; sometimes I don't quite know what a piece of mine means until it's overwith and it's been exposed to the reasoning of others. Words aren't always what give the poem meaning; the readers do.

When reading poetry, people become frustrated, thinking they aren't "getting it." It's really not so complicated as it seems. Turn off your analytical left brain for a minute. Though you may not discover the author's true purpose, you'll discover your own. There's not one right answer, so you can't get it wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh! You have buttons now! Grabbing one ;-)

    I just finished a semester on poetry I was taking for fun, and I think I have a much better appreciation for it now. We had to submit a portfolio of poems, now I'm nervously checking my email every day to see if I passed. A 95% or greater will determine how much I still like poetry :P


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