by Rachel Abramowitz
For many, if not most people, encountering a poem is akin to being shoved blindfolded into a labyrinth at whose heart lies a Brussels sprout doused in castor oil. Actually, the general reader would shun such simile-making, choosing instead to abandon the enterprise altogether. Anyone who has tried, with less than one thousandth the skill, talent, and zeal of Milton to “explain the ways of poetry to American undergraduate business majors” understands the near-divine frustration inherent in such a task. Resistance is hardly futile; it generally conquers all. “I don’t get it.” “I’ll never need to use this.” “All that matters is what you bring to the poem.” Statements to haunt an English teacher’s nightmares.
But you don’t have to be a teacher to experience the particular torment of trying to convince someone to read (let alone write!) a poem; you just have to enjoy poetry and want to share it. The resistance you most likely will confront is at once curious and unsurprising. Poetry did not enjoy, as did the visual arts, a late-19th century democratisation. The overlap between the millions of yearly visitors to the Museum of Modern Art and the handful of poetry readers is tellingly slim. Our culture has taught us how to look at a Picasso—or at least not to panic in front of one. At least when “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” was first exhibited, the reactions were violent. Modern poetry, no more or less challenging than a modern painting, is rarely even actively disliked. Indifference is the common attitude, and avoidance the standard strategy.
What these teachers, students, and future business leaders of the developing world need is a book that makes the case for reading modern poetry as a worthwhile and even pleasant pursuit. A book that outlines how to begin to figure out what a given poem is “about”; that explains the value of understanding how meter works; that demonstrates how and why rhyme is perfected, slanted, or broken; that considers a poet’s choice of a villanelle or a sestina or a ghazal, and briefly explains what makes these forms tick. A book that shows us how to determine whether a poem is good or bad, to develop our own artistic tastes, and to make the case for why we should try to articulate them to others.
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Article published on The Oxonian Review- to read more click link