Reading Response #5

Select one of the assigned readings this week (either  Kooser  chapters or Poetry Pack #1), and post a 500-word response below. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

29 thoughts on “Reading Response #5

  1. Aubri Stogsdill

    Poetry has never been something I was particularly interested in. For the most part, I’ve always felt that it was far too complicated and confusing for me to ever understand. I’ve never really enjoyed reading it and I’ve never written it either. Part of me hopes that through these units I will grow to love poetry, though in some ways I doubt that could happen. Nonetheless, I am hopeful for a heart change.

    One thing I thought was particularly interesting about this weeks reading in The Poetry Home Repair Manual, was the emphasis on reading other poetry in order to improve ones own. While generally speaking, this seems logical, there was a part of me that wondered why this was necessary. When Kooser compared aspiring poets reading poetry in order to develop their own writing to painters looking at other paintings to develop their creativity and skill, it clicked much better for me. I don’t understand poetry, but I understand the importance of seeing other art in order to develop as an artist.

    Another point that I found interesting the way that poems develop as you go. I think the hardest part of writing just about anything, is figuring out what it is that I want to say. Rather than just letting the words develop as I go, I generally want to understand exactly what I’m trying to communicate. Kooser seems to think that all you need is an idea, and from that idea the poetry is born, but it is developed as you go- it doesn’t always stay the same.

    I find it interesting that there is so much meaning that can be pulled from poetry. Kooser mentioned that after your poem is finished and out in the world, there isn’t anymore time to explain to the reader what you meant- thats the only chance you get. People will read it and try to figure out what it means, but it is likely that they will get it wrong, which could potentially be frustrating. At the same time, allowing a bit of mystery can cause your poem to be more intriguing.

    Apparently, in poetry there are no spare parts. Kooser describes a time when he and his wife had to listen to a woman describe a long story, sparing no detail, even when the details did nothing for the story. This caused them to become frustrated. In the same way, if a poet includes unimportant details in their poem, it will be a turn off to the reader. Unlike in other writing, it is very important to be precise, concise, and intentional with poetry.

    This reading made me want to understand poetry more.. but I felt a bit bored every time a poem was included in the writing.

    1. Andrew Lange

      Aubri, it’s kind of funny you mention feeling bored at times, because at times I did also feel as though the reading was rather dry. That being said, however, I also thought some parts of it were actually quite good. For instance, I felt as though his poetry excerpts weren’t bad, but I found I mostly paged right through the first half of the book.

    2. T Gordon

      I am not a huge fan of poetry either, and your honesty is appreciated! Kooser has the same approach to writing as Anne Lamott does–you have to get started writing, and your product will emerge after you start putting some words on the page. I actually like this approach, as it really makes writing a more fun process of discovering, and really lessens the stress. I don’t enjoy mulling over my writing throughout the day, because when I do, I inevitably just criticize my own ideas. If you have the ability to come up with a clear message before you start writing, and execute that in your writing, that is a great talent!

      I hope you enjoy poetry a bit more after this unit

  2. Andrew Lange

    I very much enjoyed reading the first few chapters of Kooser’s work. Like another student mentioned, I personally never had a huge amount of interest in poetry, and furthermore I never had much reason to write using that particular form. That being said, Kooser does bring up a number of very interesting points. One in particular that I remember was one in which a poem taking a physical shape was mentioned, and how counterintuitively enough most anyone will invariably take it all the less seriously than if it were simply written “normally”. Kooser uses the example of honoring a deceased aunt; a poem in the shape of a casket is bound to be taken less seriously given its poorly chosen “shape”.

    One aspect of Kooser I enjoyed was the references to other situations the reader would almost certainly encounter in daily life; things like the grungy rest-stop bathrooms or the carefully packed meat at the supermarket; these analogies make the content relatable for the reader and the humor makes the reading less dry than it would otherwise be by far.

    I’ve personally never dabbled all that much with poetry, as I generally find it too restrictive; I would rather write in a more “free-form” manner. People always tell me I have a gift for writing, but I still very much have a preference for writing freely. To be honest, I hate writing for prompts- I find them too restrictive. The fewer restrictions or more loose the prompt, the more creative I can be.

    Speaking of Kooser’s references to other everyday situations I touched on a little bit ago, that’s one device I very much enjoy using when I write; I often try to reference typical situations anyone would be likely to encounter. Even while workshopping someone’s essay for last week, I made reference to having a panic attack “Even in the parking lot at Walmart”. I often inject brand names like that into my own writing, as it gives the reader some imagery and some familiarity with the subject.

    Finally, Kooser simply uses lots of imagery in general, which is something I often do in my own writing, even when it is non-poetic (which it usually is, more often than not). Even in one particular flash assignment for this very class, I took advantage of the rather loose prompt and had fun with it, giving witty descriptions of the imagery.

    1. Jessica Honebein

      Andrew, I would also have to agree with you that poetry can be restrictive. I think that writing in a free manner can be easier because then you can express yourself in any way that you want to. I think that poetry normally has a lot of hidden meanings that you really have to look for. Whereas in an essay you do not have to search as hard for the meaning of the essay. I bet with all the imagery and descriptive words you can think of you will do just fine writing poems!

  3. Jessica Honebein

    Jessica Honebein- Reading Response #5

    The poetry pack #1 was full of three very intriguing poems. The first poem was “The Red Poppy” by Louise Gluck. This poem was very interesting because it seemed to have been written from the perspective of a flower, a red poppy. The words in this poem are simple but the ideas are complex and really make you ask yourself what she is trying to say. I think that she expresses the “flowers” feelings and leaves out the thoughts. She is speaking on what a poppy thinks of humans, rather than what a human thinks of a poppy. The poppy seems to think its own mind, like when it says “Oh my brothers and sisters, were you like me once.” The poppy seems to think that humans are closed off and not able to show the fire from their own hearts. The last line, “I speak because I am shattered” almost seems like the poppy is trying to take on human emotion, highlighting the aspects that can happen in human life.

    The second poem in the pack was “You Who Never Arrived” by Rainer Maria Rilke. This poem is very deep and took my a minute to decipher for myself. My interpretation is that Rilke is seeking wholeness and having a hard time finding it. I think that he is lacking part of his soul, that is where he feels incomplete. It seems that he is searching and never seems to find it, although he really wants to. I think that the part about the mirrors in the shop being still dizzy with her presence and giving back his too-sudden image is quite interesting. It almost seems as if he is conveying both his depresperation and longing to find what he is searching for. I am not quit sure I interpreted this poem correctly, but that is just what I got on it.

    The last poem in the series was, “A House is Not a Home” by Terrance Hayes. This poem starts out talking about a fight between a friend triggered by inappropriate drunken affection. He talks about the happy times of singing with him friends. That is the start of relating everything else he says back to sound, like as he talks about his friends he than will relate it back to music/sounds. He seems to really highlight his relationships with his friends, and express what is really important.

    Poetry for me can sometimes be hard to interpret and there are so many interpretations of each poem. I am not sure I interpreted these poems in the way that the author’s intended them to be, but that is what I got from the poems. What other opinions do you guys have about the poems? Is there anything big that I seemed to miss? I think out of all three of these poems “The Red Poppy” by Louise Gluck is my favorite one. I just find it so interesting that she can take something from nature that is simple, like a poppy, and relate it so closely to human life. I would be interested in reading more of her poems and seeing if she does this in any others.

    1. Monica Gallagher

      Oh my goodness. I completely spaced that the title of the Red Poppy in my interpretation. I guess I got a specific feeling from it and just went with that. My frame of thought with her poem was that she was talking about herself and depicting her internal emotional life and struggle.

      The great part about writing is that there can be multiple meanings and interpretations. I mean, sometimes the writers themselves, don’t necessarily know what’s going to come out or what it means. Traditional structure and analytical fact don’t really play a huge part in poetry and me likey. I imagine it as Pollock painting, just completely random and splashy.

      With the second poem in that pack, I got more of an unrequited love vibe. He probably was in search, maybe of his own soul, or possibly of hers, that he thought was part of his soul. A soulmate, I think you might call it. This one kind of just annoyed me. Oddly enough, I think it’s because he used “Beloved” so much. I can just imagine some poor 14th century soul begging and whining about his beloved. Heartless, slightly.

      The last poem by Terrance Hayes had a really significant cultural element to it. It sort of led into it, subtly, but it was definitely there at the end. He wanted to soak in the experiences of his people so that he could share them to the world type of thing.

      My favorite is “The Red Poppy” too! I love how it was just so wide open, even if she was just maybe talking about a flower.

    2. Aundrea Pierce


      I think you made a beautiful interpretation of “The Red Poppy” by Louise Gluck. I attempted to decipher the poems before reading everyone’s response, but I didn’t get far. I think you are spot on with the concept; she wrote from the perspective of the poppy (‘of course’, I told myself). “You Who Never Arrived” by Rainer was even more challenging for me. I think you’re on to something with the whole searching for wholeness! I can definitely sense he is searching for someone, I’m just not sure who. Reading it from your perspective though, searching for his soul would be fitting. “A House is Not a Home” by Terrance was an interesting poem. I feel he was a bit drunk and inappropriate with his friend and his wife; he definitely leaves the reader wanting to know more details! He kept speaking about music, but I wasn’t grasping how the music applied to his story. I agree, “The Red Poppy” is my favorite. It’s cute and simple!

    3. Michelle Cordova

      Hi Jessica,

      I interpreted the 3 poems in many of the same ways as you did, especially “The Red Poppy.” Like you, I also felt that the second poem was a little more difficult to understand, but I was still able to find a sense of appreciation for, what I believed to be, the overall message- searching for love but never finding it. I agree that poetry can be difficult to interpret, and I’m not sure I completely understood any of the ones in the poetry pack, but it was interesting trying to read between the lines!

    4. Cassidy Kramer

      It took me a while to realize that she was actually was referring to a flower. I had to read it a couple of times. I like your point of view!

  4. Monica Gallagher

    Good poetry always seems to break my heart and open it at the same time. It’s a process of self- discovery and destruction it seems, that these artists go through. That residual matter seeps into the reader and causes an expansion of feeling. I love the way, you don’t have to think too much. You can’t really think too much about it, just to feel it, gives you enough to appreciate it.

    “The Red Poppy” hurt my heart a little bit. She seems like a woman in shards. Like a beautiful stained-glass painting that has broken apart over time. Shattered and worn and still together at the same time.
    “Were you like me once, long ago, before you were human?” She had mentioned previously how she had a lord in heaven called the sun. She’s speaking about the existence of spirit before we’re formed, before our feelings, and before our thoughts. She talks about the open and close, about the essence of the heart.
    It’s a powerful poem, that could take on several different meanings and is both expansive and oppressive. I like it.

    -“You Who Never Arrived”-
    Oh, the unrequited love. This one had a little too much sap for me, but I did appreciate some lines. “Pulsing with the life of the gods”, “All the gardens I ever gazed at” and “dizzy with your presence”.
    I didn’t like the style, too Shakespearian for me and had too much woe. The eloquence and detailed delicateness surprised me though.

    “A House is Not a Home” read a little long for me and was very story life. It was very unusual to what I’m used to with poetry. It turned out to be mysterious and targeted towards the end. He was very realistic and honest in his depiction, which I can respect. There was a lot of girth to the poem, almost too much, but as you reread it, you can tell it’s there for a reason. It reads like a story, but it’s a poem. “It’s jangled”. You can hear the person talking and interacting, you are playing out some of the events in your head as you’re reading. It’s very illustrated, in not the usual way, with adjectives. It’s a first for dialogue in poetry, for me as well, which was cool to see.

    “I bet somewhere in Mississippi there is a skull that only a sharecropper’s daughter can make sing”. WOW. That right there, got me. I wasn’t sold until then, and that was at the end. Those are those little gold nuggets that I love from poetry and free flow writing. That sentence brings on the voice of the narrator in the movie “The Beasts of the Southern Wild” or another movie “Mudbound”. I love and appreciate writing that can automatically and effortlessly bring up imagery and sound to my mind. It’s like artistic ice cream. The dessert of life. Those little extra’s that we don’t necessarily think that we need, but when we have them, we’re like WOW, I needed that.

    1. Katherine Whelchel

      I enjoyed reading your response! 🙂 I agree that some of the poems can get tiresome and a bit frilly with expressive drama; however, I wonder if that is actually what the artist was thinking/feeling when they wrote the poem? It is also lovely reading your descriptions of the poems. You have a gifting for eloquent words and prose. I’m excited to read what you post!

  5. Katherine Whelchel

    Poetry is beautiful, but sometimes it’s treacherous and ugly. It is all for a very specific purpose though. It is almost like writing a song; the artist sits down with an emotion and lets it carry them until the end. Each poem written in this first poetry pack was strong with meaning. I could almost hear a melody behind each word, transforming the poems into music. I enjoy the freedom that poetry brings. Each artist is able to write whatever comes from their heart without being bogged down by the necessity to explain things. The most confusing poems seem to be the best because you know that there is a logic behind them, you just have to look deeper to understand. They force you to peel back the top layer and gaze underneath, capturing all you can with your eyes, ears, and mind.
    The limit of space and time is also captured in poetry. Though there are some, not many poems can go on for pages. This leads the artist to complex pictures that transform into a shorter but incredibly potent masterpiece. I cannot wait to be stretched by this section of our class. The list exercise we are doing for our creative exercise this week is right on point. Poems are just lists of emotions, thoughts, or memories that are condensed into a cohesive piece.
    I have tried to write poems a few time in my past, and have always become stuck in a place of control. I will begin with a deep movement from God and then start to over think and try to create the poem rather than letting it be created. When given a passionate motivation, I want to sit by and let the words flow out the way they are meant to. My hope is to grow in my poetry skills. Fingers crossed!
    It was very interesting to view the writer’s minds as I read their poems. It made me wonder what they care about, what their dreams are, and where they are going in life. It seems a bit wonderful to go through life with the point of view that comes from being an avid poetry writer. However, part of me feels that it would also be hard and incredibly tiresome. There are times I wish I had everyday thoughts like those written down in famous poems, but then I realize that I am happy that my mind is clear from excessive attempts to understand. The perfect balance in my mind is living a full life and recalling your heartbeats when you sit down to write.

  6. Caitlyn Williams

    Caitlyn Williams
    Reading Response #5

    I’ve always been interested in poetry. The way words are used with so much emotion, yet so simply said. So descriptive, yet so abstract. I’ve never been one to actually sit and read a book of poetry because I believe that end up reading them at the right time. A poem might jump at you from some place; A place like Facebook and Instagram. I see them a lot of them there. Some you just scroll past, others you can’t help but captivate your mind. Whether it’s because you relate, or some lines burn into your mind, poetry is a positive thing. It’s expression, and expression is communication. I’ve got a few poetry books, and I read them from time to time. I think there’s a certain etiquette in reading poetry. I’m not sure what made me believe this, but I do. There’s almost always such raw emotion in poetry, and you can’t help but follow the rhythm once you find it.

    In Kooser’s poetry home repair manual, he says that there’s a difference in being a poet, and writing poetry. One’s writing, and the other is wearing a barret trying to look sexy. The tone in this manual is a little dry, but it is humorous. He speaks his truths and his knowledge on poetry and that’s what matters. He writes about how writing poetry isn’t about the money, publications, or prizes, it’s about writing and serving good poetry to readers. It’s the connections the readers take home that matter.

    I liked that Kooser shares his beginning in poetry; he noticed that he was only acting a poet and decided to start reading. It was then when he started finding the balance of being a poet, and writing poetry. This plays along with looking at others work to influence your own. Kooser writes about how we take poems with us after we read them. This, I think is true, most of the time. I tend to forget things, and I’ll admit I don’t think I’ll remember the first few poems in this book. However, after reading this part of the book I will remember the poem about the homeless; I think this tied into the importance of connecting with the reader and seeing the world through poetry you’ve read.

    Kooser uses metaphors wisely. Metaphors always make understanding literature better. Metaphors are something you can relate to; it’s important to use these metaphors while teaching. One metaphor I liked was,“While you sit quietly scribbling into your notebook, memories and associations rise like bubbles out of the thick mud of your mind”(p13 Kooser) This quote makes an easy association; it’s something I relate with and I wanted to remember it, so there you go His use of words make me want to read further, it’s quite easy to understand with the different heading and poems that are included.

    I think it’s also really important to find a good place to be alone. Having space and having solitude come hand in hand when one is writing. This makes the flow from your heart, to your brain, to the pen much easier. Another thing I enjoyed about this reading was Kooser’s poems. Especially “Rainy Day”. This poem was about a woman in a wheelchair that pushes herself through the morning. That line got to me, and I like the way he’s comparing pianists hands to hers. It makes the poem interesting, without it there wouldn’t have been a glimmer in my mind.

    1. Naimy Schommer

      I like how you discuss the importance of solitude in the timeline of a writing process. I agree, and like how you put that flowing process into flowing words with “from your heart, to your brain, to the pen”.

  7. Naimy Schommer

    Thoughts on “The Red Poppy” – by Louise Gluck

    Unrhymed, free verse

    First sentence: Assertive-9 syllables. Focuses on the absence of something being a positive thing, implies that that thing is complicated and generally makes everything worse.
    Second sentence: Assertive, casual, 10 syllables. Gives authority to feelings.
    Third sentence: Discursive. “A lord”: lowercase lord designates authority but leaves ultimate authority unfilled. (“the sun” also lowercase implies a natural authority, authority of nature). “open for him” implies that the writer’s natural state is closed–could be implicative of all humans or just the writer in particular. “fire of my own heart, fire / like his presence”-writer feels directly linked to either nature in general or this particular “god”, the sun. Humans are a part of nature, humans have a place in nature.
    Fourth sentence: A Question-daring you to answer. Almost challenging the reader to come to another logical conclusion. Writer ties heart, fire, and celestial authority.
    5th Sentence: Implies that everyone follows different paths, that everyone is fundamentally related.
    6th Sentence: Recognizes the individual’s free choice to be open (honest) with themselves and the universe around them, even if only once for a brief period of time.
    7th Sentence: coming to you as a peer, as a human as well
    8th Sentence: The writer is broken in some way. This could be her inhibitions being broken, or her “fire” being broken, but I lean towards the former int.

    I like this poem in the same way I like going to church: it ties my soul to something bigger, something with more influence than I, something that intimately calls to all humans. This writer names that thing “the sun,” or more specifically, its “fire”. I’m interested in why this poem is titled, “The Red Poppy”. Poppies are small flowers, and generally have only two or three petals on each of their tiers. This gives them a very open and accepting face with a dark, concentrated center. They are a fiery red color, and bloom delicately in warm climates. Poppies are also the source of the crude opium, and can have a slightly hallucinogenic effect when ingested in large amounts. Since WWI, they’ve also been a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who die in battle. In modern western culture, they’ve been used to symbolize peace, deep sleep, or even death in some cases. I think the writer chose to title this poem because of the openness with which red poppies reach towards the sun. Their petal position reflects the openness the writer feels towards the sun. The vibrant red color also is a great visual representation of the tie between the two, and their fiery energy. Poppies are also small flowers: they could serve as a proportional example of how much larger “the sun” is in relation to humans, or, subsequently, how much more natural authority it has over us. I also see a theme of ‘working through brokenness’. The sun shines through everything, doesn’t apparently feel brokenness, and because of that, humans can rely on it to be a constant through their own brokenness.

    1. Caitlyn Williams

      Hey Naimy! I like your analysis of “The Red Poppy”. I’ve never seen an analysis quite like this! It made me reread the poem in a different light! I love poppies, my friend named her daughter Poppy and I think she’s gonna be one fiery flower!

  8. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    Sierra Russell-McCollum- Reading Response #5

    I have never been the one to be very fond of poetry. My old schools never brushed up on the subject, you could tell the teachers didn’t understand it as well. So that has sadly shaped the way I view poetry. I don’t hate it I just find it hard to understand and the actual meaning. While reading the Poetry Pack #1 I ran into the same issue.

    The first poem, “The Red Poppy” by Louise Gluck, I read was a bit confusing to me. I feel like I think too much while I was reading this poem and end up missing the main points of it. But after rereading it several times I kind of got an understanding, I think. The picture I got from this poem was that this woman who was writing it was broken. She has/had been through a lot, and this was her telling her story in a secretive way.

    The second poem, “You Who Never Arrived” by Rainer Maria Rilke, was easier for me to interpret. From the beginning of the poem, you can tell he is looking for someone he loves dearly. But as the poem goes on he doesn’t find his beloved. He talks about a moment where they could have met, and I love the way he does that. He wanted to meet this person so badly, but he isn’t sure who that beloved person is. He states how h doesn’t even know what kind of songs would please the person. And I feel like so many people could relate to that. People are constantly searching for love but they don’t know who they are really trying to look for, making it almost impossible.

    The third poem, “A House is Not a Home” by Terrance Hayes, I honestly did not have an idea of what it was trying to say. This may be because I have a stubborn mind, but this poem did not strike up my interest at all. I found it hard to read and get into it. No disrespect to the author and others who may enjoy it, this is just my opinion.

    When it comes to poetry if the main point isn’t laid out in front of my eyes I have the hardest time understanding it. But that is due to the lack of exposure I had to it all throughout my younger schooling days. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I understood poetry better. There are some pieces that I do understand and enjoy. I just wish I had an easier time understanding it and enjoying the beauty of it like other people do so easily. But I also think that is what’s so beautiful about poetry. It makes you think hard and it’s your job to find the meaning of the poem. There can be many different meanings one poem has, and it’s up to the reader to find out what it means to them. It’s quite beautiful if you ask me.

  9. Michelle Cordova

    I am a bit torn on the way I feel about poetry. On the one hand, I find poetry to be fun and amusing, while, on the other, it can be confusing and overly dramatic. It is not uncommon for me to write a silly poem for my kids on their birthdays, rhyming my words and making it playful; however, I have never been able to dig any deeper into poetry and expand my poetic horizons.

    The main thing the three poems in poetry pack 1 have in common, for me, is that they illustrate how different poems can be. Poetry doesn’t have to follow certain guidelines. It is a chance to write from the heart, as short or as lengthy as necessary, about anything one might desire while also allowing the writer to choose just how much detail they want to share.

    “The Red Poppy” by Louise Gluck was perhaps my favorite of the 3 poems. It was easy to understand, yet it had depth and meaning. It was as if the flowering plant was the one speaking, reminding humans that being broken and shattered is okay, and, in some ways, those feelings are necessary in order for us to open our minds and get back to our roots.

    “You Who Never Arrived” by Rainer Maria Rilke was a little more complicated to understand, and this is where poetry sort of throws me off. I feel like he was saying that he had a beloved, yet has never met her, but with many more words twisted together. Maybe, it was more of a made-up love, someone he created out of a longing desire to find that special connection with someone, but always felt two steps behind physically meeting her, although I could be way off! It is a beautiful poem; however, I feel like it involves more guesswork than the first.

    Lastly, “A House is Not a Home” by Terrance Hayes was completely different than the first two poems. It is almost as if his poem was something just shy of an interesting, descriptive narrative that purposely leaves many questions unanswered. He starts off by saying he embraced Ron’s wife a bit too long because, I’m assuming, Ron wouldn’t kiss him. Were they both in love with Terrance and he with them? Terrance also says “that night at Ron’s house I believed, he, his wife, and Luther loved me more than anything.” Had he been having an affair with both the husband and wife or was he simply offended when Ron wouldn’t kiss him because that’s where his true passion lies? He also talks a lot about sounds and a job he wants, which makes it a little difficult for me to understand what his point exactly is in this poem, but then again, maybe that is the point.

    I hope that this portion of creative writing helps to change the overall way I feel about poetry. I also hope that it teaches me how to create a piece that has meaning, without leaving the reader feeling confused.

    1. Corbin Knapp

      I enjoyed all three of the poems, but I agree that “A House is Not a Home” is a bit confusing. I agree that he probably intentionally made it that way. The other two poems are the kind of poem that I think of when I think of poetry. Easy to understand but still having depth and meaning. Keep up the great work!

  10. Leah Rego

    I’ve always loved poetry, especially classical poetry. I Have never really liked non-rhyming poetry though, I guess it just lacks the rhythmic grace that is part of why I love poetry. Robert Frost has been an exception to that from the moment I first listened to one of his non-rhyming poems, one of the ones that most touched me was ‘Home Burial’. It really resonated with me when Kooser wrote that a “…poem is the record of a moment at that window” both in that the author control what is seen through that window, but especially in that a poem is the perfect vehicle through which a precise moment in time can be told. Some stories are too small for even a short story to tell, such as Frosts tale of the tulmult between two parents whose child had died, but sometimes it is in that small bit of that moment that a tale can be told in it’s most in death form. It’s not about the fights the death may have caused, or what happened, or whose fault it was; it was about that moment, with two people grieving in different ways, one wanting to bridge the gap, the other not able to. It could for certain be told in some other way, but in that way we see so much more of how that “moment at that window” than we may have see when overshadowed by the full story of the child’s death.

    1. Ben Knapp

      I also like poems better when they rhyme! Non-rhyming poems sometimes seem unfinished or unrefined to me, with a few exceptions. I enjoyed your descriptions of his poems.

  11. Ben Knapp

    Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual is a collection of tips and tricks that he has accumulated over the years, as well as some of his thoughts on poetry itself. The advice is useful, and the thoughts are intriguing. Overall, it was an interesting read.

    Kooser begins by dispelling any hopes the author might have had as to a career solely funded by poetry. As It did not pertain directly to the theme of his book, it was an interesting choice for an opening, but I think it was a nice touch. As well as being useful advice for a budding poet, it helps to draw the reader in to the book early on.

    Before long, Kooser is showing us poems and discussing them. I feel that the deeper meaning of some of the poems that he uses might not have been apparent if he had not explained them to us. Does this mean that the poems are confusing, or is this his way of giving the reader a look into the hidden significance of the poetry?

    One thing I didn’t like about the writing is how Kooser uses rather dry, almost dreary tones. Although his poetry is mostly uplifting and cheerful, there are places in the text that I found to be a bit lackluster, such as when he is analyzing a poem, or talking about a creative process. However, it could be argued that this fits in with his “Home repair manual” theme. Either way, it might have been better if Kooser had added a little more appeal or interest to his work.

    Despite a having a bit of a dry tone, the book does boast some interesting parts. I liked how he broke down crucial parts of each poem, examining how it affects the general feel of the work. He also includes examples of different ways the poetry could have been written, and discusses how these changes would have affected how the reader feels. This helps the reader by allowing him to see all the different ways something could be written, and allows him to decide for himself which way is the best way to write it.

    I also enjoyed his chapter “Don’t Worry About The Rules.” In this chapter, Kooser discusses how to build a poem with cadence and flow, but without worrying about following the rules that are traditionally set for poetry, such as iambic pentameter. I enjoyed this chapter, but one thing that I found unusual was how, towards the end of the chapter, he says that a haiku does not have to be made in lines with five, seven, and five syllables. I found this unusual, because to me it seems that the point of the haiku is to write something beautiful within a very strict and formal form. If you don’t follow this form, you could still create an amazing poem, but would it still be a haiku?

    Altogether, the writing was fun to read and informative. The advice provided is useful for any budding poet and although the tone may have been a bit dry, the overall effect was good. Reading the book was helpful and entertaining.

    Works Cited

    Kooser, Ted. The Poetry Home Repair Manual. University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

  12. Corbin Knapp

    Ted Kosser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual is an interesting read that sheds new light on the subject of poetry for me. Something that Kooser wrote that I think will help me with my poetry for this class is the chapter on having the right amount of “sentimentality” in poetry “Writing About Feelings.” When I have written poetry before, I found that writing something that people can relate to emotionally makes writing poems easier for me.

    An example of this is the poem “Fish” by Dixie Lee Partridge. This is a really touching poem that Kooser states, “can express strong feelings without expressly stating those feelings.” some examples of this are the passages, “They discussed helping it die, and how to, but no one wants to lift it from faint liquid life.” and, “After, they sketch on the dry shoal with their stick the shallows of a name.” Instead of just writing that some kids’ goldfish died and they felt horrible about it, she made a beautiful poem about the feelings we have when a beloved pet dies.

    Poems can also express other feelings besides sadness. Kooser’s “After Years” is a poem about someone who glimpses a past lover, and remembers the past love they shared. “Today from a distance, I saw you walking away, and without a sound the glittering face of a glacier slid into the sea.” This describes the earth shattering feeling of seeing someone you used to love very much. After that part of the poem, he continues to list powerful events that compare to that instant. It makes the poem resonate in the reader’s psyche.

    An example of a poem that Kooser thought was too sentimental is the poem “Mother”. I enjoyed this poem, but I can see how it might have too many generalizations. “Never a thought of the joys that flew by; Her one regret that she couldn’t do more for me,” and “Mother- the sweetest and fairest of all.” Those are a couple of examples that are considered to be “generalizations” and a little bit to sentimental. In my opinion, everybody has their own style of poetry and if you want to make a poem that is sentimental then you can do that if you want.

    I thought that Kooser’s book had some interesting takes on poetry, but I found that his writing could be a little dry at points. The poems he includes in his book are good examples of great poetry, and I found that when the poems came up it gave a welcome break to his writing. He has good tips on tweaking your poetry to make it have feeling, but not be too sentimental. Overall I think that this is a great book that offers some helpful tips and great poems but could have been more exciting.

    Works Cited
    Kooser, Ted. The Poetry Home Repair Manual. University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

  13. Aundrea Pierce

    Poetry is not my preferred style of writing. As a kid I remember I loved poetry, and I could rhyme all day long! The older I got, the more complicated and frustrated I became with it and eventually got “turned off” with poetry. Don’t get me wrong, in my eyes, people who write poetry are very talented; I just don’t feel I have what it takes. I appreciated reading the Kooser chapters because he shed light on the whole purpose of poetry, and I had a lot of “that’s neat” moments with light bulbs turning on while reading.

    While his writing didn’t keep me as hooked in as Lamott’s, I still found it easy to stay engaged and be captivated by his thoughts and wisdom. I felt it was wise for him to answer many people’s question at the beginning of the book, “why poetry?”. I love his honest answer such as, “Though it can be a lovely experience to write a poem that pleases and delights its author, to write something that touches a reader is just about as good as it get.” (Kooser,2005) When I finally do decipher a complicated poem, I feel a special connection. However, sometimes I get flustered because I want to know more details; like with one of the poems we read this week “This House is Not a Home” by Terrance Hayes. In this poem he left just enough mystery for me to be hooked, but I wanted to know more. Kooser had a well-rounded thought on this technique and its purpose, “There’s something to be said for mystery, if handled with care: A little mystery can help make a poem memorable. Too much mystery, though, and you’ll discourage most readers.”(Kooser,2005)

    I also appreciated the wisdom and advice in the “Writing about Feelings” chapter. He explains that “poets must find a balance between restraints and expressions of feeling.” Some of his descriptions were a little confusing to grasp; I felt at times his explanations were a bit lengthy, but I was able to understand the main focus he was attempting to get across. For example, when he was trying to explain “sentimentality” and how to include it appropriately into writing I got a bit confused. However, he did mention that sentimentality is difficult to define so I will be researching more on it to get a better comprehension of it. I’m thrilled he equips beginner poets with such vital “tools” to write. One of my favorite lessons was when he tells beginning poets to refrain from writing about their feelings to avoid making overt statements of feelings. He further provides examples including his poem to develop a set of details to convey the motion. The chapter can be easily misunderstood, but I’m glad I understood what he was talking about and feel excited about putting forth this challenging technique with our poetry assignments.

    Just as with Lamott’s book, I find this one to be full of great advice and even some humor. His writing was easy for me to follow even though it wasn’t as captivating as the many metaphors and descriptions Lamott gave readers. The most important thing is that I feel more confident tackling poetry; my weakness! Majority of the reading was entirely new information for me and like a breath of fresh air to digest and utilize.

    Kooser, Ted. The Poetry Home Repair Manual. University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

  14. Mekayla

    I have always loved poetry. Something about the sing-song quality of the writing has always attracted me, and I have always had a very specific idea of what poetry is. I loved the neatness of the stanzas and lines in the poems I was introduced to as a little girl. If it didn’t rhyme and it didn’t seem exactly lyrical, to me, it wasn’t really a poem to me strict definition.
    As I grew in my education, I quickly realized that my ideology of what made a poem a poem was very false, and I opened the door to a whole new realm of poetry with seemingly organized lines and interesting rhythms, and absolute no rhyming or alliteration. I was so overwhelmingly disappointed with this discovery and it really put me off of poetry for quite awhile.
    More recently, during my adult life, i stubbled uptown some poetry that got me reading and writing again. I devoured as much poetry as I could reveled in the way that words and sentences were constructed in such a beautiful, impactful way, all without neat stanzas and rhymes. The fist poem in this collection is a good example of a piece that defied my initial idea of what poetry was. Since I’ve discovered so many different types of poetry, and really realized how vast the genre is.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of these. I’ve been trying to gain inspiration for this upcoming workshop, and seeing different styles definitely helps. I’m exited to learn more about creative writing, poetry, and myself during this next workshop.

    1. Mekayla

      *Some of my original response was cut out**

      I have always loved poetry. Something about the sing-song quality of the writing has always attracted me, and I have always had a very specific idea of what poetry is. I loved the neatness of the stanzas and lines in the poems I was introduced to as a little girl. If it didn’t rhyme and it didn’t seem exactly lyrical, to me, it wasn’t really a poem to me strict definition.As I grew in my education, I quickly realized that my ideology of what made a poem a poem was very false, and I opened the door to a whole new realm of poetry with seemingly organized lines and interesting rhythms, and absolute no rhyming or alliteration. I was so overwhelmingly disappointed with this discovery and it really put me off of poetry for quite awhile.
      More recently, during my adult life, i stubbled uptown some poetry that got me reading and writing again. I devoured as much poetry as I could reveled in the way that words and sentences were constructed in such a beautiful, impactful way, all without neat stanzas and rhymes. The fist poem in this collection is a good example of a piece that defies my initial idea of what poetry was. Actually, all three of the poems are. They all discuss love, loss, emotions, etc… The things that I’ve always associated with poetry, and the flow of each poem varies, each unique to the author and mood of the poem, but they’re so much more than I thought poetry could be.
      My favorite of the three is definitely “The Red Poppy,” by Louise Gluck. Structurally, i like the shortness of her phrases. Something about her style is to the point, but it does a really good job at conveying the emotional depth and internal conflict here.
      Since I’ve discovered so many different types of poetry, and really realized how vast the genre is.I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of these. I’ve been trying to gain inspiration for this upcoming workshop, and seeing different styles definitely helps. I’m exited to learn more about creative writing, poetry, and myself during this next workshop.

  15. T Gordon

    Here’s my thing with poetry– I sometimes really enjoy reading it, but I don’t always completely understand what I’m reading; sometimes I just get bits and pieces, but this is enough for me to enjoy them. For example, I loved Terrance Hayes’ “A House is Not a Home,” though I’m quite certain all his lines resonated with me in the way they were intended. I suppose this is impossible, as we all have different reactions to writing, and my experience as a white woman is inevitably different from his as a black man.
    I tend to prefer poetry that is more down to earth and understandable, which is why I particularly enjoyed the opening to Hayes’ poem, where he describes a drunken night with his friends that took a turn for the worst–really, all because he was having too much fun! This conflict caught my interest right away because I am not very familiar with poetry that starts with descriptions of real events.
    I really appreciate Hayes’ truthfulness about getting in a fight because he had too much wine and crossed a line with his friend’s wife. I felt the same tipsy feeling he describes as he talks about the fun him and his friends had attempting to sing like Luther Vandross. The rest of the poem sounds like he is still writing while under the influence; despite the physical pain he must feel from getting hit by his friend, he still sounds to be in la-la land, reflecting on Luther Vandross and the unique African American voice in many varieties of music. His writing here is so vivid–when he talks about there being (somewhere in Mississippi) a “skull that only a sharecropper’s daughter can make sing,” I pictured a warm, mysterious Southern night. I see that he is also referencing the struggles of black people in America by mentioning sharecroppers.
    Throughout the rest of the poem, he describes the variety of voices and experiences that are captured in songs from African American musicians. However, his tone is not so clear to me–I am not sure if he is being sarcastic or serious when he states that his sound of getting back up after a friend knocked him down could be included in this musical anthology. Does he actually think that his voice belongs, or does he think that there is no comparison between his voice and those of others before him? I can tell that whatever the intentions of his words, he is jovial, and I feel that too reading his poem.
    Whether I will enjoy a complex poem truly depends upon my mood. Sometimes I am in a mood to really dive into the meaning of writing, and other times, I just want to be taken on a fun, clear journey during my reading. The wonderful thing about poetry is that everyone does it differently, so hopefully, there is something for everyone.

  16. Cassidy Kramer

    Poetry is hard for me to write, and hard for me to read. I have never really gotten into it, as far as wanting to read or write it. I feel like if the poems do not rhyme, they are hard for me to read. Although, I do wish I was into it like other people. It is a beautiful form of writing that really brings out the creativeness in some people. I like how it could be in song form, or it could just not rhyme at all. I personally liked rhyming poems, and it is probably because I grew up reading Dr. Seuss books. The three poems in the poetry packs are all very beautiful and intriguing.
    Out of these three poems, I liked “You Who Never Arrived” by Rainer Maria Rilke the best. It makes me wonder what Rilke is talking about. It could be a thought, or a thing, or a person. It is a beautiful poem, and it makes me thing about what has not arrived for me. It is hard to think about, because they have not arrived. At first, I was thinking about what has not arrived yet, like my future, my husband, children, job, but when I read it again, I realized that it is something that never will arrive. It was a very fun poem to read.
    The next poem I liked was “The Red Poppy” by Louise Gluck. I like the beginning the most and how it talks about how it would be great not having a mind, or feelings. At first, I was extremely confused. Then I realized, that Gluck is in the feelings of a red poppy. They do not have a mind, but feelings, Gluck says. Their lord in heaven is the sun, and they open for him. I think it is very creative of Gluck to come up with that. I, on the other hand, would never think of that. It is a very beautiful poem and I like it a lot.
    I liked all these poems, and I liked how they all differed. The last one was pretty long, something I would never consider a poem, but I like it. It is called “A House is Not a Home” by Terrance Hayes. I liked the visual representations in his poem like the part talking about “the purr of liquor sliding along the neck of the bottle”. I thought that it was very cool.
    I am very excited to learn more about poems, and I hope that I will grow a certain love for them because they are beautiful. They have such meaning to them that is just awesome. Some are very simple, and some are very complex, some have little meaning, and some have a lot. I am also excited for learning how to write poems. It will be tough for me to write things in their simplest form (kind of like math, ew), but I can’t wait to see what the poet side of Cassidy Kramer is going to come up with.

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