Bulletin Board, excerpt


From (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, August 23, 2005

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Inspired by Gordy, the Hertel Ham (who asked: "Do they still teach poetry in schools?"), here's Poet X of PDX: "The only poetry I recall being introduced to in public school (K-12) was Robert Frost's 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' and Lewis Carroll's 'Jaberwocky' in elementary school. In eighth grade, a teacher 'taught' a few Simon & Garfunkel song lyrics, explaining that that could be poetry, too.

"In high school, where I was on the speech team, a friend competed in the poetry category, reading the work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, suggested to him by a teacher. Though I enjoyed what I heard, poetry was very much a stranger to me.

"It was only in college, having chosen English as a major, that I was required to take a course in poetry. I soon realized that it was a genre unto itself and one that I wanted to understand.

"But two college classes barely brushed the surface. The majority of what I've learned of poetry, I've learned on my own. This is not a complaint, but an encouragement. Poetry is its own infinitely interesting universe, with bright stars, dim stars, novae, suns, moons and asteroids, not to mention space junk.

"Some poetry is easy to understand. Some may take a little work to understand why it is regarded or respected, but the effort is worthwhile. And given that there is such a range of poetry to be found, one certainly doesn't have to like it all.

"Can you imagine living without music? Isolation from poetry is a similar deprivation. Another art form I like to compare it to is painting, which poetry resembles more than it does, say, fiction. It's painting, but with words.

"What treats await the curious reader! Those of us in the know, know."