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Problems with Poetry

Some people really get into poetry. They love taking a poem and ripping it to shreds. They start making claims that in some way, or any way, the poem reflects the way the author is feeling or experiencing something in his or her life. This is fine if that is what the author intended, but is that always the case?

Take any poem, read it the way the words are written on the page, and leave it at that. Maybe, for once, you do not sit around in a classroom and discuss how the yellow leaves on the tree are actually a metaphor for the author's nicotine-stained mustache. Maybe the bush providing bright red cherries all year round is not a metaphor for how the author never lost her virginity. Maybe it's safe to assume that the author was actually writing about a real bush, or a real tree with yellow leaves.

Maybe you've already gotten the point I'm trying to make. Poetry was my least favorite subject in English class. It only got worse when the same flesh-off-the-bones ripping analyzing happened to non-poetic literature like regular books or short stories. Why couldn't we just appreciate the text for what it was? I don't care about the author's bipolar sexuality or his family problems caused by the fact that he wanted to be a writer instead of a professional assassin like his dad. In theory, if you had to read between the lines for the poem or story to be any good, then we're dealing with a shitty author here, in my humble opinion.

Why won't you try this the next time you come across a piece of literature. If someone's trying to force you to study the author's life in order for you to be able to appreciate the text, then tell them straight up that it's crap. Read the literature anyway, without too much background information, and see if it's any good. If it is good, then by all means, go ahead and dig into the author's personal life, and try to find connections and hidden meanings. Be warned, this usually leads to the piece of literature that you liked in the beginning sucking more and more.

Try reading this poem written by a black kid. You don't need to know anything else.



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