How to Appreciate Poetry

Previously, I wrote about Hatred of Poetry.

Now I want to clarify that – by quoting from the same article by Charles Simic:

In the late 1960s, I participated in the Poets in the Schools program in New York City. It involved going to different high schools, visiting one or more classes per day, and being paid as little as fifty dollars. Since I was always broke, I went. I’d get there at the appointed time, find the principal’s office where someone would escort me through noisy hallways to some classroom where equal pandemonium reigned and where I would be introduced to a teacher who would then quiet down the students by shouting: “We have a poet with us today!” It was news received with incredulity, with kids asking each other and the teacher if they heard it right. Once I got a chance to say something, I asked the class if they liked poetry, a question that made many shake their heads, some pretend to gag, and one or two even spit in disgust.

Since that was the answer I had learned to expect, I asked them next if they ever wrote love letters. Their embarrassed silence told me that of course they did. Now that I had their full attention, I asked them whether they would like to hear a love poem. They said nothing, so I’d read them poems by E.E. Cummings, Dickinson, Millay, and a few others, asking after each one whether they wanted to hear more. And they did. After I was done with love, I read them poems on other subjects and they not only paid attention, but started making perceptive remarks.

This guy is walking his talk. By showing he is a real person.


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