Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boxed Creativity

Poetry has always been something I love. I don't consider myself a poet by any means, but I enjoy allowing my emotions and thoughts to overflow into something poetic from time to time.

Today in my English/Composition class my teacher gave us a preview of next semester's English class: Literature. He brought four or five poems having to do with warfare, many written by soldiers. He chose a person from the class to read each poem, and then prompted our entire class to analyze each poem.

There are few things I hate more than analyzing poetry.

It's not that I hate poetry; as I said I enjoy writing some myself. When I analyze a poem I feel like I am applying my own emotions and experiences to someone else's work, then assuming their meaning. I hate this because I know that when I write, I don't do it so that "the intended meaning" can be extracted by the reader. Primarily, I do it to express myself. Secondarily, I do it so that others can find their own meaning in my poem.

In a school setting, I don't see how grading poems is fair.

My teacher went on to tell us that a great writer will write poetry that is able to be torn apart and analyzed; true poetry has something the author is getting at and it takes the reader pulling back the layers to fully grasp this point.

This bothers me. Poetry is an art, is it not? As are music and painting, correct? Do we strip apart the musician's song and try to "understand what they're getting at?" Perhaps some do. I find so much more value in letting the song speak to me where I'm at. Many songs have impacted me strictly based on my current circumstances and situation. I believe the exact same thing can be said of art expressed through painting, drawing, or sculpting.

So why is poetry so different?

When walls are put around creativity, it ceases to exist. All that remains is monotonous gibberish written or molded to fit someone's expectations.

I'm not exactly sure why this had such an impact on me, but it did. I grew furious in class as my teacher showed us how to break poetry down line by line. Why?

Maybe I felt my creativity die a little bit.


1 comment:

  1. From Dead Poets Society

    Dr. John Keating talking to his class after having them rip the introduction, written by J Evans Pritchard, from their poetry textbooks.

    “Armies of academics going forward, measuring poetry. No, we will not have that here. No more of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. Now in my class you will learn to think for yourselves again. You will learn to savor words and language. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. I see that look in Mr. Pitt's eye, like nineteenth century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school. Right? Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him, thinking "Yes, we should simply study our Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions." I have a little secret for ya. Huddle up. Huddle up!”

    The boys get up from their seats and gather around Keating in the center of the class.

    “We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman: "O me, o life of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, o me, o life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”

    Keating looks up at Todd.

    “What will your verse be?”