Chalked on the blackboard of Mr. Black’s grade ten high school English classroom was this quote from Carl Sandburg: Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. It stayed there for the month or so that we covered poetry, reminding the tryers among us what we had to do to make people go “ahhh”.
Later, in third year-university, Professor Ron Wallace brought all us “excellent” English students to our knees as he taught us how to parse a poem. We weren’t allowed to talk about feelings. No, we had to explain HOW the poet conveyed what she wanted the reader to feel. I learned never to take a word for granted. I learned connotation and denotation. I learned sound and word placement. I learned rhythm and meter and stress. I learned I was a shitty poet and didn’t understand poetry very well after all. It was horribly humbling. Continue reading