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Chris Perrin, November 22, 2017 in
Art of Poetry (Christine Perrin)
For those of you have started taking the Art of Poetry course or have studied poetry previously--what are your current or emerging thoughts on why it is important to study poetry?
Because Christine is teaching it
How I wish I had been introduced to poetry by someone like Christine or had begun with the Art of Poetry as a student! What I remember most from my introduction to poetry in 8th grade is learning scansion, which quickly became a means of destroying the life of the poem—an analytical dissection performed for it's own sake. The result was that I walked away from poetry assuming that I wasn't a "poetry person" because I didn't find reading the dissected poetry all that interesting or meaningful. One thing I think Christine has done masterfully in this course is to teach form beginning with the very basics (e.g. What are images? How does rhyme work?) by using poetry to illustrate these concepts, but without stripping the poetry of its meaning or purpose. It's the difference between Sissy Jupe from Hard Times knowing horses by observing her father as he worked with them, and her classmate classifying the creature scientifically.
Clearly teaching form is good and necessary. But in poetry—or in art more generally—how do we teach form without killing the thing?
Why study poetry? Poetry helps me think metaphorically. This enables me to see connections among all sorts of things.
Donald, I agree. I have noticed over the years how those who have studied poetry are often able to write prose that retains a poetic, analogical, and metaphorical tone that makes it quite engaging. And as you note, the connections that poetry enables extends not just writing and prose but to "all sorts of things."
I wonder if it stretches the metaphor too far to say that I think poetry amends the soil in the cultivation of virtue. The ideas that Christine presents that poetry cares a lot about many things and that it trains us to realize that not everyone thinks the way we do led me to think about what poetry might do. Poetry is so tightly packed with meaning and it is put in with great intention to bring together what was already there with what was imagined. Poetry probably cannot fix everything because there are other forces of nature out there, but it seems like a really good place to start.
My priest taught us that the Greek for "God created the heavens and earth" uses "poeta". God is a poet! Poetry is meaningful and mysterious, not scientific and analytical. It is playing with and loving the puppy, not killing it and cutting it up to say what makes the tail wag. IF you can figure out "what" biologically makes the tail wag, cutting it up you will never find out "why" the tail wags. To possibly do that, the puppy must live. You must live with the puppy, and play with the puppy, and train the puppy, and clean up after the puppy. AND THEN. MAYBE you will START to find out SOME reasons why the puppy wags his tail. And you will not be puffed up with presumed knowledge, but you will be humbled by relational understanding.
That is "why" you study poetry.
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