Friday, July 04, 2008

Introduction to Poetry

Here's some cleverness from Billy Collins. As someone who's taught poetry, I can relate to this one.


Introduction to Poetry

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.



Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. He served as the Poet Laureate in 2001 and is the author of several books of poetry.

19 Comments:

Blogger castlewon said...

Well, didn't they tie us to a chair first and demand we write what the poem means? And we sweated and wrote and were marked wrong? Or do they do it different now?

10:17 PM  
Blogger Chandini said...

Thankfully, we were not forced to write poetry. That's the reason why I am alive and kicking!
Jokes apart, some poems do need a light. This one doesnt.
It is as clear as daylight and has a wonderful resonance about it.
Love it.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Oh! What reminders of AP English this poem brought forth. Thank you - lovely, breathtaking views of how to think of writing poetry.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous -Dick "Dover Beach" Cheney said...

Poems must be waterboarded to extract their real meaning.

5:54 PM  
Blogger SacrificeofPraise said...

Lovely poem... oh that my husband would quit asking for explainations of my poetry! LOL

2:39 PM  
Blogger julie said...

castlewon -- "they" (or rather "we") do it different now . . . if we're teaching anything at all.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

i just began reading him.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Poetgrrl said...

thank you for your blog; can come here every week to see what we don't see every day, much needed. really enjoy all the poems you post and look forward to many more.

11:05 PM  
Blogger robin said...

Wow, I really liked this one. Do you write your own poetry as well?

1:00 AM  
Blogger Sweet-love said...

This is really nice!

6:04 AM  
Blogger me said...

A classroom exercise might go like this: 'Compare and contrast 'Introduction to Poetry' by Billy Collins with 'Form' by Michael Longley. You might want to consider poetic formalism in your response.'

10:20 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

i love him....i might be the only person that ever considered stalking a poet. haha!

1:06 PM  
Blogger x:giggsz said...

this is awesome.!.
it's so true.!.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Funny and oh so true! And still sometimes the meaning escapes us.

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