Overall Reflection

                This class has definitely challenged me more than most as poetry and my analysis of it has never been my strong suit. I think I have grown at least somewhat over the course of this class. At the beginning of the class I was pretty negative about the whole experience because I just did not like poetry and I was only taking it because I need it for an English minor. However, I realize that I like poetry more than I thought I did once I stopped thinking about it in the conventional manor. I love spoken word and, on occasion, I do listen to rap. It’s just the poetry that is often taught in class that I see as difficult to understand and enjoy. That being said, I think once I realized this, I utilized my interests to the best of my ability. I went to a spoken word event for one of our papers which made writing that one much more enjoyable in addition to enjoying the poetry event itself.

                One paper I look at specifically as one of my weakest would be the very first paper we wrote. I think every English teacher is different and is looking for different things when they are grading papers so I did not really know what to expect. After this paper, I looked to your comments and tried to improve on the next paper. Although I only made a B on this paper, I still see it as a step up. When going into the pastoral paper, I tried to pick out more specifics because that was something I had glanced over on the sonnet paper I had first written. Even though picking out specifics ultimately led me into repetition, I think it was still a much better paper and I was proud of the work I put into it.

                Most of my issue when it comes to poetry is that I just really do not understand it. I can read a poem over and over and, if it is not just blatant, then I will likely never understand the meaning until someone tells me. This is mostly the reason why I was never too keen on it to begin with. However, I think the class helped a bit when it comes to my analysis and comprehension of poetry although I think there could be more time spent on those two ideas before diving straight into the poems. If you do not understand what the poem is saying or do not know how to properly read it, it isn’t going to mean much in the end. But I do think that I have improved quite a bit over this semester and that has made me enjoy poetry as a whole a lot more. This class has definitely influenced my approach in other classes too because it has helped me to think more critically and look at things in a different light.

                Overall, I have enjoyed being in this class. Although I probably found it more challenging than others, I feel like that is why it is worthwhile. I won’t necessarily make the grade I had hoped but it has shaped me as a student and has impacted the way I view works of art.

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2 thoughts on “Overall Reflection

  1. Thanks for your honesty. Even people who love poetry and/or study it for a living find some poems intimidating. I do hope that at some point, in college or anywhere else, you stumble upon a poem or style that speaks to you.

    When you encounter dense verse, try transcribing it into sentences and then putting the words into common English syntactical order–subject, verb, object (SVO). Take Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 as an example:

    But no such roses see I in her cheeks,

    And in some perfumes is there more delight

    Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

    Transcribed into common syntax, it would be, “But I see no such roses in her cheeks, and there is more delight in some perfumes than in the breath that reeks from my mistress.” Here you have a scaffold of meaning, where it’s easier to tell what the basic subject of the poem is and how the metaphor works. Then you can begin to build upward: what did you lose when you read the lines that way? Even if they don’t change the meaning, how do the meter, rhyme, and syntactical inversions enhance certain effects or shift the reader’s focus?

    Not all poems can be dismantled and rebuilt so neatly. You may remember reading William Carlos Williams’s “Queen-Anne’s-Lace.” That modernist poem toys with Shakespeare’s sonnet in a manner that leaves us unsure of whether the woman or the flower is literal or central to the poem. In cases like that, it helps if you can describe your confusion in a precise way. Many poems affect us in ways that aren’t wholly rational. Spoken word is a good example, since it has less to do with buried meanings than about the interplay of text, voice, the physical space and all sorts of cultural signifiers. Translating those non-verbal or effects into the rational language of the essay, review, etc., is always a challenge.

    As a beginning teacher, I’m still learning to strike a balance between explaining poems and letting the class work through them. You make a good point that I would probably do well to spend more time on the big picture before digging around for peculiarities and ambiguities.

  2. I have definitely enjoyed taking this poetry class and creating our anthologies that are due tomorrow. I think spoken word will likely always be my favorite form of poetry but I hope I find more along the way too!! Thank you so much for all the help you’ve given throughout the semester and in this post! I learned a lot in this class and will definitely take it with me as I go on at Emory.

    Also, side note, sorry that I did not realize these were supposed to be posted on Blackboard!!

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