Reading Response #7

Select one of the assigned readings this week (either Collins chapters or Poetry Pack #3), and post a 500-word response below. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.

23 thoughts on “Reading Response #7

  1. Andrew Lange

    I very much enjoyed reading the first 157 pages of Billy Collins’ ‘Poetry 180’. Although, like many people, I personally do not have a particular affinity for poetry, I nevertheless very much enjoyed reading his work. I most particularly enjoyed his introduction. In his introduction, Collins goes into detail about a project he spearheaded to get poetry into a particular high school in Chicago. I particularly enjoyed his descriptions; he uses imagery of things like rows of lockers stretching seemingly forever. It adds to the perceived hostility many think of when they think of a big-city high school. (I, myself, was a graduating class of one and cannot imagine having attended high school in a densely populated metropolitan area).

    I also found that several poems very much called to me; they spoke to me greatly or were very relatable or made me pause and read them again and again. While the body of the book itself consists of transcribed poems, so reading even 157 pages went very, very quickly; I frankly powered through it in probably 30 minutes. That said, when I did find one I found relatable or that called to me somehow, I found myself stopping and re-reading them.

    One interesting issue I experience (And I wonder if others also experience this when reading poetry) is that I sometimes feel like things are almost too short. While this can feel extremely restrictive when writing, it also can sometimes pose a rather interesting experience for the reader. More specifically, when I would come across a piece I found particularly intriguing, I would find myself reading it over and over, yet struggling to grasp much meaning or detail from usually under 100 words, if even 50 or 25. For instance, one piece mentions someone waking to find their bed partner running a high fever, springs into action throwing them into a (presumably cold) shower, then dresses them and rushes them to the emergency room, taxi driver looking at them nervously in the rearview mirror. The story abruptly cuts off with the author sitting in the waiting room awaiting news, but we never hear anything more or learn more about who the person having a serious medical emergency was; A spouse? Child?

    Part of what made some of these pieces relatable to me, stopping and reading them again and again, was undoubtedly imagining myself in some of the situations they depicted, a flash of a person’s life, even if they are typical experiences. I can completely imagine myself in similar situations, for instance maybe throwing a feverish roommate into a cold shower and having a nerve-racking taxi ride to the emergency room, then nervously sitting in the waiting room awaiting (often bad) news.

    One last bit I enjoy about poetry, when well-written and relatable, is the “flash” into someone’s life. I usually write using large amounts of imagery myself, so much of the imagery in this compilation of places like nature walks and 24-hour gas station convenience

    1. Monica Gallagher

      I appreciate your response and has brought me back on to earth level of what actual, basic poetry is all about. It is, like you said, a very true window into someone’s life and it may be the only way that we are truly allowed in. It makes you appreciate the lines more and respect what has been written in a way, knowing that it is coming from a persons mind. I have mixed feelings about this, because I have mixed feelings about people, but I think most feel that way at some point or another, depending on situations and experiences.
      I do really appreciate the work that Kooser is doing with the school systems. I think to fully make a program like that work, the poems need to be on their level though. It needs to be poems that will catch their attention, make them think, be relatable to them. Many of the poems that I read, did not seem to fit the bill. That may be, because there aren’t many out there, which is another thing to inspire the younger population with. It would be interesting to attempt inspiration through relating music lyrics to poems and vice versa. If kids thought they were writing songs, they might be more apt to giving it a shot.
      It makes me sad that there’s not as many free thinkers and artists out there than has been in previous times. All the ‘great works’ we have to choose from seem from a different time and anything that is new now seems very superficial and dry. This is very surprising to me, seeing the state of society now and all of these very reactive situations happening. I hope for more.

    2. T Gordon

      I agree with you–I really enjoyed this collection of poems because they revolved around relatable stories. This is exactly what Collins’ goal is. Poems are a great medium to get a quick peek into someone else’s experience without wading through a novel full of details. You get the message and content right away, and then you can take time to think about it in more detail.

  2. Sierra Russell-McCollum

    I can definitely say the more we read poetry in this class, the more I am understanding it and liking it. While reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” – By TS Eliot I was hooked from the beginning. I really liked how he started the poem in a different language. For me, that spiked my interest. The poem was so extremely easy to read due to his word choice. Everything flowed so smoothly, and his words rhymed so nicely.

    I have never read a poem this long before because they usually lose my interest. But this poem did the opposite. I loved how long it was. I loved the settings he would set for the reader, making you feel as though you are in the story with him. I believe the poem was talking about him and a lover, but he wasn’t making it completely obvious. He would mention him and the other person, but quickly drift off about something else, usually himself. I liked the mystery though of who this person was. It kept me wondering and searching for clues in his writing. I think he did a good job on making the reader search for more information about his lover. It was like I was being teased everytime he mentioned this person.

    I really enjoyed the descriptions the main character in the poem, it really helped add character. All the descriptions were spot on, I seriously felt like I was seeing what was described. I love when a writer does this, it helps me get more into the writing and feel like I’m apart of it in a way.

    I would have to say this is probably my favorite poem out of the poetry packs so far. There were so many things that worked for me in this poem and it ultimately helped me keep reading it and enjoy it. One of my favorite lines in the poem was “To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?” I don’t know why but this poem really stood out to me. When he said this I could relate to him in a way. And I especially loved the comparison he used. When he said butt-ends I instantly thought of cigarettes and how people through the butt-ends out on the street because they don’t matter. I viewed his meaning as forgetting all the bad days in his life, like how people throughout the useless part of the cigarette, the butt-end. This sentence just really caught my attention for that reason.

    I definitely would consider reading more of TS Eliot’s. This author does such a good job at writing poetry and makes it fun and interesting to read. Like I said before, I usually don’t see a lot of long poems so this was a nice change. I liked everything about this poem. From the words that rhymed, the descriptions, word choices, and storyline. It was all put together in such a perfect way.

  3. Jessica Honebein

    The first thing that I noticed when opening the poetry pack was that it only contained one poem. This poem was extremely long, which is not what I am used to. I think that poems can be hard to really analyze sometimes so it was a little daring to me. Honestly, by the end of poem I felt I had a basic understanding of what Prufrock was trying to tell the reader. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by TS Eliot is a interesting poem that walked me through different settings/images as I read. I think it is interesting that the poem begins in a different language, which I looked up and it is in Italian. When it begins in English I noted right away that it was written from the thoughts of one man.

    Throughout the poem he leads up through the streets, into a crowd of women, through fog, and in the ocean. I think having all this variety was interesting and he was very descriptive in his stanzas. I picked out a couple themes throughout the poem, love and time. Love was an obvious one that I picked out as he contemplated whether he should talk to the women or not throughout the story. The second theme was time, as I read on it seemed like I was on a roller coaster. At one point I would be observing him in the present, and then it would go to the past, than future. Time seems to be a reliable theme for him as he wrote this poem.

    The ending of the poem was a little difficult for me to wrap my head around. He brought me to the ocean and sea-girls as he “drowns.” I think that he might be trying to say that he is almost paralysed with fear of rejection and the thought of that seems to drown him. It is crazy to think that one poem, especially this long, was written on the thoughts of deciding whether to talk to a woman or not.

    Overall I did enjoy reading this poem and I am sure that there are a lot of interesting references that I missed so I am definitely going to research more about the poem. I think the title was eye catching, I was curious on the name and it got me reading. The imagery and word choice kept me reading and imagining what was happening throughout the story. Along with that I wanted to see if the story was actually going to stumble upon the main character actually talking to the woman. I think that the ending was a good one for the poem though, it all boiled down to the bottled up emotions that he was having throughout the poem. The last thing I really enjoyed about the poem is the way the main character was conveyed.

    I think that through the main character I may have learned a little bit about the author. Although many of the characters actions and thoughts were full of heavy satire, I still think those qualities could have been inspired by the author. I think that I will have to do some research on the author’s life and see if this is a true observation of total fiction though. Either way I still really enjoyed indulging my mind into this poem and picking it apart.

  4. Katherine Whelchel

    “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by TS Eliot was enthralling to read. It has been my favorite poem that we have read so far in our poetry packs. I felt like I could understand the emotions and motives behind the piece. He was incredibly descriptive and set a beautiful scene. Even after reading the poem a few times, there are still layers to pull back and analyze. The picture of lonely, dark streets and people full of fake expression and dead emotion all shows a heart of separation. Eliot seems like a master of description, giving indicators of the setting yet using the scene to open up the innards of the poem. In poetry, I feel that all descriptions of the setting around you should be glimpses into the motivation of the poem. Rather than setting the scene to tell a story, it’s set in poetry to express the heart of the piece. This is something I will need to work on. Sometimes, the description comes, and other times is a generic “the sky was blue”.

    “There will be time, there will be time, To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” this was my segment of the poem by Eliot. When I read it I froze a bit, and then re-read it about five more times. This simple and repetitive wording displayed the common practice of almost every human; putting on a face to show the world. I got the feeling that Eliot, or the man in his poem, felt the need to do what others were doing, Yet behind his face, he was miserable and thought that being immersed in the sea would be freedom, and everyday life was drowning.

    While some of the wording seemed as if the man in the story was talking to the love of his life, the poem also felt private and more like what he wished to say to her. Like I said, I am not sure if I have interpreted properly. Maybe that is the beauty of poetry though. The poem is written a certain way and with a clear motive, yet it can be interpreted differently depending on the reader. I don’t think that people can be wrong in their understanding of a piece, only wrong about the original motivation.

    1. Michelle Cordova

      Your analysis of Eliot’s poem was great! I’m right there with you in that this was probably my favorite poem as well as it was deep and meaningful, yet easy to understand. I didn’t get the feeling that the character was talking to the love of his life so much as he was describing the love/hate relationship he has with life and himself, but then again, I’m still fairly new at this whole poem thing too! I definitely agree that there can be many ways one piece can be understood, and I think that’s what makes poetry so special!

    2. Aubri Stogsdill

      I really liked what you said about this line: “There will be time, there will be time, To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” I didn’t even think about that until I read what you said. It is so true that we tend to edit ourselves in such a massive way in order to control what others can see.

  5. Caitlyn Williams

    Poetry I80 by Billy Collins contains some well written contemporary poems. I was surprised that there were only poems in here. The introduction of this book was super important. Collins writes about the problem with modern schools. They seem to read poetry solely to figure out what it means. Sometimes, over analysing ruins the poem itself. Collin acknowledges that poems should be read to read them because they’re a creative form of expression. Reading poetry to figure out the meaning can dry up the poem, and make it stale. This concept of poetry challenges poetry itself, it defeats the communication aspect of poetry, and it makes reading poetry sound like a chore. I believe that poems were meant to be read in their own time. Collections, however, should be read together. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a collection. I love how the author focused on getting back into poetry, to read poetry for enjoyment. Not to figure out an obscure puzzle that makes your head spin around.

    Granted that some poems need to be fished out, others do not. The author writes about how contemporary poems are more easy to decipher or figure out. They’re more clean-cut, and require less time fixing a puzzle, and more time looking at the puzzle as a whole. This way when one reads a poem they can understand it and take it to heart. (If the poem captures their being) Collins also writes about how American High Schools teach “contemporary” poetry, when really it is not. The text books they use are probably older than the students themselves. Collins wrote this anthology of poems to bring back joy in reading poetry;poetry that is actually contemporary so that adolescents can understand them in a better light. I found his work to be clever, I liked that the first poem was called, Introduction to Poetry this poem asks the readers to take the poem and enjoy it, glaze over the surface like you’re on a jet ski and acknowledge the author on the shore. It ends in a disheartening way, the way they tie a poem to a chair. This shows how the schools treat poetry, and he wants to change that.’

    The introduction is a powerful piece, I also liked that he mentions that he chose the poems. This is a great book, and I look forward to reading more than a poem a day. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t go page by page, I just flipped through the book and read about 10 poems whenever I’d sit to study. I’d also find myself reading them at home while I have coffee and breakfast. I like to take in the poetry I read, and understand the expression of the poem, and the structure of the poem. I’ve taken one class in high school that included poems, but they were all ancient, and I found them hard to relate to. I didn’t grasp a connection because they were hard to decipher, so this book is a game changer. I’m excited to read more of these poems, and see all the different forms of poetry revealed.

    1. Ben Knapp

      I really liked the opening poem too! I think it ties the following poems together really nicely, and it’s an awesome poem in itself. Your response sums it up nicely.

    2. Cassidy Kramer

      Hello Caitlyn,
      I really enjoyed reading your response. I like how you pointed out Collins saying that complex poems can make themselves stale, or seem like a chore. I loved reading the poems in Collins book.
      – Cassidy

  6. Michelle Cordova

    The poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by TS Eliot caught my attention from the very beginning as the epigraph is written in Italian. I immediately paused and looked for a translation and quickly learned that it is from the Inferno, written by Dante AlighieriI. I believe Eliot included this at the beginning of his piece simply to shed some light on what his poem is truly about: feeling trapped, surrounded by evil- even if the evil is all in your head.

    After this, Eliot seems to be talking to the audience, asking us to walk with him as he takes us through the “half-deserted streets of insidious intent,” which I feel adds a hint of darkness to the poem as his choice of words insinuates that we will be misled- by the streets, Eliot’s mind, or our own. He continues on, talking of women who come and go along with the passage of time, all while he is cooped up, trapped in his own mind, contemplating whether or not to make a move. He questions everything as if his mind is playing tricks on him.

    My favorite line in the poem is “to prepare a face to meet the faces you’ll meet.” I feel that we have all been in this position, trying to act a certain way so that people won’t see your true feelings. However, you can definitely tell that the character in this poem is dealing with something a lot deeper than a simple breakup that you are trying to pretend hasn’t torn your heart straight out of your chest.

    I found a few lines in this poem to also be amusing, which was nice as it broke up the negativity. He talks about his bald spot and his thin arms and legs, and how he imagined everyone was talking about him, which, again, was probably all in his head. However, he clearly has a difficult time interacting with anyone around him, and he doesn’t know how to go on, or even begin, living a normal life. He almost wonders if tomorrow will bring about some sort of change which will allow him to be free of the negative thoughts in his mind.

    I appreciate the vivid descriptions Eliot used in this poem and the way his rhymes were here and there, yet didn’t feel randomly placed. It was incredibly easy, once I read the poem aloud, to feel the characters pain and picture his face and well-planned movements, as if I was standing next to him. Oddly enough, a piece of me wanted to try and comfort this man.

    Overall, this may be my favorite of all of the poems we’ve read so far. Although I cannot truly relate to the character, I can relate to some of the feelings he has. I feel that Eliot did a great job at giving this poem life and meaning, something many people can connect with on some level.

    1. Corbin Knapp

      Hi Michelle!
      I agree that Eliot’s poem was an attention grabber! From the first line he drew me into the poem by using another language, I actually didn’t bother translating it , so I didn’t know it was from Dante’s Inferno. Thanks for your take on the main idea of the passage! You did an excellent job reviewing Eliot’s poem, and made it more understandable for me.

  7. Aubri Stogsdill

    At first, it seems that this really is a poem about a woman that he loves. The first line, “Let us go, then you and I” is captivating and romantic. He then speaks of time spent alone and restaurants. The following section is so confusing to me. I don’t understand what the yellow fog is and I don’t feel like it fits with the previous section. Then the poem makes a turn in a totally different direction. Now, it seems like he’s almost trying to convince himself that he doesn’t need to speak up, that he’ll have time to later. So he isn’t really talking to her, he’s talking to himself as if she could hear him, but she can’t.

    In the next section, it becomes clear that he is running out of time as he mentions his thinning hair, yet he worries if he should say something and in turn disturb the universe. Then he talks about all that he knows. He isn’t a young inexperienced man, he much experience and knowledge. Then he begins to speak of arms, which makes me think perhaps he is speaking about the arms of lovers, or perhaps he is simply talking of the elegance of the woman he loves and his attraction to her… (maybe??)

    He wants to express his love and affection, but can’t seem to make himself do it, and at the same time he keeps coming back to the fact that he is getting older, and he wonders if he should presume on this issue. He keeps saying after this thing, or after that thing, he will say it but then he doesn’t. He can’t communicate what he wants to say.

    Dang, I did not enjoy this poem.

    1. Naimy Schommer

      but… girl… you totally got it! Eliot writes in a stream-of-conciousness style, so sometimes the images are simply there to evoke emotion or prepare you for upcoming information. I think your analysis is spot on, but also can be applied to larger issues and spoken about in larger themes. I love this poem! I’m so bummed you didn’t! Oh well, its not for everyone.

    2. Monica Gallagher

      I also, did not enjoy the poem, at all. I tried, I really did! But you can’t fit a square peg in a star hole. I’m seriously hungry for modern thoughts and words, I want to hear from all these screaming activists, why aren’t they writing poetry? This collection so far has been superficial and old to me, I want fresh and new and alive words!

  8. Naimy Schommer

    To start: I freakin love T.S. Eliot. As far as modernist poets go, he’s my favorite.
While this poem can be hard to interpret because of its modernist, stream of consciousness form, its most commonly interpreted as the sexual frustrations of an older man who is torn between expressing his love and not. I’ve always read this poem as an internal monologue, a sort of half-deranged rambling argument he has in his own head. But I was talking to a friend about this poem earlier this week, and he said he’d always read it as part of a conversation between this man and a close friend. I’d never looked at it like that, and that assumption presented a little different light in which to read the poem.

    I’ve read some criticism on this poem, and one of the main questions usually asked is if this is simply a poem about one man’s sexual frustration, or if it implies a larger question. Obviously if we’re talking about Eliot, we’re looking at larger implications, in my personal opinion. Prufrock is trying to answer an “overwhelming question”, the obvious question being if he should express his love or not. But what does this imply on a larger scale? It could represent the disillusionment of modern life or Prufrock’s belief that he’s lived an unfulfilled life. I have read that Eliot was influenced by Kipling for this piece, but I don’t know that I personally see evidence of that outside of the nod to “The Love Song of Her Dyal” in the titling of the poem.

    This was the first poem ever published professionally by Eliot in June of 1915. World War I was in full swing, and as it progressed, Eliot’s work got more and more nihilistic peaking with “The Wasteland.” While Eliot was originally born in St Louis, he immigrated to England and wrote under British citizenship. He would have been there for the events leading up to World War I as well as the war itself.

    The character of Prufrock has become very well known as a trope in modern literature. His voice is that of nihilism and struggle. This poem, while not on the level of Eliot’s more famous “The Wasteland,” does portray themes of unattained love, weariness, longing, sexual frustration, the decomposition of human nature, and a human struggle with morality and emasculation.

    “But since, up from these depths, no one has yet
    returned alive, if what I hear is true,
    I answer without fear of being shamed”

    The beginning latin stanza comes form Dante’s “Inferno”, and serves to cast a sarcastic or ironic light over the poem. Just like Guido in Dante’s “Inferno”, who originally stated the lines, Prufrock never knew his story would be shared. As a reader, this quote serves to give a position from which to read the poem.

    I love this poem, and could write a whole report on it, but I’ll cut myself short so no one has to read my exited rambling about a dead modern poet. 🙂

  9. Corbin Knapp

    I really enjoyed beginning to read Poetry 180 . The poems included in this book are a great introduction to the wonders and mysteries of poetry. It was hard to choose which poems I should review in this assignment, but I finally chose “The Hand” by Mary Ruefle and “It’s Raining In Love” by Richard Brautigan.

    “The Hand” was an interesting poem that describes the feeling of being trapped in a classroom on a warm spring day perfectly. “ The teacher asks a question. You know the answer, you suspect you are the only one in the classroom who knows the answer, because the person in question is yourself,” This is one of my favorite parts of the poem, which I translate as him hearing the question and knowing the answer, but not really being aware enough to raise his hand.

    The poem continues with another section where the person doesn’t raise his hand to answer the teachers question, and instead raises the top of his desk, takes out an apple , and admires how peaceful his hands are when he is not drumming them. The last part of the poem is my favorite, “The teacher repeats the question. Outside the window, on an overhanging branch, a robin is ruffling its feathers and spring is in the air.” I enjoyed this poem, and I think a lot of people can relate to having zoned out in a classroom.

    “It’s Raining In Love” Is another poem that I found very engaging. It is a touching poem that anybody who gets nervous when talking to someone they like can relate to. A part of the poem that you can definitely tell he gets nervous are the parts ,“I don’t what it is, but I distrust myself when I start to like a girl a lot.” and, “It make me nervous. I don’t say the right things.” For me, these are really relatable passages, since when I talk to someone I like I get super nervous that I will say the wrong thing. “If I say, ‘Do you think it’s going to rain?’ and she says, ‘I don’t know,’ I start thinking: Does She really like me? In other words I get a little creepy.”This part made me laugh, but I think it might have been better if the poet had chosen another word besides creepy. I enjoyed this poem, and thought that it was a bit weird at that one part , but I thought it flowed well and engaged the reader.

    I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the poems in Poetry 180, and I am looking forward to finishing the book. Some of the poems were a bit too confusing for me, and I had a hard time understanding them. An example of one of these poems is “Only One of My Deaths” by Dean Young. The whole poem he was saying how he wanted to kill bugs in more painful ways, and I just didn’t get the point of his poem. But besides a couple of poems like that one, this has been a great book that offers poetry that is touching and very engaging.

    Works Cited
    Collins, Billy. Poetry 180 A Turning Back To Poetry. Random House, Inc. 2003.

    1. Aundrea Pierce


      I found a lot of the poems in Poetry 180 were confusing and dull. However, there were some that really did click with me because I could connect with the poem on a personal level (it spoke to me). In “Only One of My Deaths” by Young I interpreted the main point as to kill the beetles with more dignity. The beetles had to die in order for the roses to live, it’s a choice I don’t think he enjoyed doing and he expresses this by his revealing his thought of killing the beetles in an inhuman way, but at least they will die sticking to what they love. I’m not sure if this is what he was trying to portray, but that’s what I got from it.

  10. Ben Knapp

    Billy Collins’s Poetry 180, A Turning Back to Poetry, is a highly varied collection of poems. The poems are diverse, and most are interesting in their own way. There are sad poems, happy poems, and funny poems, which, although does nothing to further any type of theme to the poetry in the book, does serve to make the book interesting and thought provoking.

    The first poem in the book is by Billy Collins himself. The poem is about poetry itself, and how readers never understand poetry the way that the poet wants them to. Readers are inclined to scrutinize the poem for meaning, rather than to simply enjoy it for what it is. This provides the reader with an idea as to how the poems should be appreciated, as well as hopefully adding a little extra something to the rest of the book. The poem itself is decent, and provides a nice forward to the rest of the book.

    One poem that stood out to me was “The Hand.” In the poem, a student is in school, when a teacher asks a question to which he knows the answer but instead of answering, he eats an apple before becoming distracted by his hand, and eventually ends up staring at the birds outside the window. Does this poem have some deeper meaning, or is it merely about daydreaming in school? Either way, the poem was enjoyable to read.

    Another poem I liked was “A Poetry Reading at West Point.” The main focus of the poem was a poet who, as the name suggests, was reading poetry at West Point. The main focus of the poem is how, after the poetry, a cadet asks him why his poems always give him a headache. The poet tries to explain his poetry, but ends up fumbling for words, and ending awkwardly. The poem ends with the Cadet replying with a “Sir! Thank you sir!” This poem is not only humorous, but also outlines some of the inexplicable something that makes some poetry so hard to explain.

    One of my favorite poems is the one called “Football.” In this bizarre but entertaining poem, a football player is about to make a pass, but realizes he is somehow holding a shoe instead of a ball. The poem takes a philosophic turn as the player ponders life and its many possibilities. He thinks back upon how he has eaten pancakes with corn syrup that weren’t as good as those with maple syrup, and somehow relates this to what he is about to do. After this philosophical interlude, he decides not to throw the shoe after all. The poem is strange, but is nonetheless charming and fun.

    Overall, I enjoyed reading from Collins’ book. Some poems were happy, some sad, and some downright strange, but they all brought something unique to the book, meaning that there was something in the book for everybody, no matter their personal preferences. The beginning of the book was enjoyable to read, and I look forward to finishing it!

    Works Cited
    Collins, Billy. Poetry 180 A Turning Back To Poetry. Random House, Inc. 2003.

  11. Monica Gallagher

    Oh my.
    I really thought that poem was never going to end.

    I’m disappointed in my lack of open-endedness in this poetry section of this class. I really thought I loved all poetry, but it is very apparent that I never went outside of my own little box of taste. The example in the poetry pack for this week was extremely painful for me to read. I could not focus on the poem itself, I was lost in thought. Why isn’t this just set up as a novel? Why is he speaking in a different language? Why does it seem so deep but is just superficial? I mean we are just talking about window panes, aren’t we? I’m not sure what my deal is, maybe I have to be in the right mood for some of this type of poetry, maybe I’m a hard critic, maybe I don’t actually like poems as much as I thought.

    Growing up around people who never read much, including poems, being around circles that never thought about poetry other than school assignments, and never seeing poetry around in any external source other than academia, led me to this place. From those experiences, maybe my conclusion was that because I liked the specific poetry that I read and because I dabbled in my own poetry and lyrics, then obviously that equaled that I was a poetry lover. Comparatively, it made sense at the time.

    This class has opened my eyes to the different styles and voices and I have decided that I am not a fan. Not a fan of everyone’s work and everyone’s voice. It seems arrogant and terrible now that I’m writing it and I feel like it doesn’t represent me as a person, because I am very compassionate when it comes to people’s thoughts and feelings. I’m always very interested to know what people are thinking or why they interpreted things that way, etc. So, this is honestly boggling my mind, why some of these poems bother me so much. It may be the self-absorption in extravagant detail thing, that both Lamott and Kooser talked about, but how dare I really, because look at me typing my reading response all about my thoughts on this and that. It’s not fair.

    There are some poems that I can vibe with and relate too and actually enjoy reading. There honestly have not been many presented in this class as far as assigned reading. I was hopeful with Kooser’s book when reading the intro and how he had mentioned his goal for his work, modern poetry and such. Well, no. I used to enjoy reading poetry and now I do not! I think whenever I have time, possibly this summer, I will have to look for a poetry collection that actually sparks my interest to reignite my passion for it, because at this point it is close to dead, and I have yet to do the creative writing assignment or the poetry collection. Yay.

    I apologize for anyone who had to read this all the way through, but it is what came out and it is completely and brutally honest.
    A valid, surprising discussion on my changed thoughts of poetry.

  12. Aundrea Pierce

    It was a breath of relief that Collin’s book was contemporary poems! I remember the birth of my hatred for poetry began in high school reading traditional pieces. The longer the poem, the more impatient and frustrated I become. In Billy Collin’s “Introduction to Poetry” he was spot on when he described the process of his students writing poetry as torturing the poem in a chair. I feel like a poet has to have a passion for them to be interested in writing poetry, or you get someone, like me, who will sit down and torture themselves and the poem. I have to take poetry with baby steps; don’t read the next line until I understand this line. I like how Collin’s book is filled with various pieces from many poets because it gives readers a taste of various contemporary styles and writings.

    I was quickly able to find pieces I didn’t mind, but more pieces I didn’t like. For example, I sometimes get turned off when I feel a piece is just dissecting a very simple object. A perfect example of this is on page 42, Richard Jones ‘White Towels’. Honestly, nothing about this poem appealed to me, I didn’t understand how the white towels related to his children or his loneliness. Perhaps it’s my poor inability to interpret poetry, but I understood every word in this short poem, and it did nothing for me.

    On the other hand, I really enjoyed and connected with “The Panic Bird” by Robert Phillips on page 130. I was a little surprised I enjoyed this because it was a longer piece, but I could immediately relate to and understand each line, so that helped me to remain engaged the whole way through. “The Panic Bird” describes how I feel struggling with anxiety, and I love how he jumps right into the turmoil in his first line “just flew inside my chest.” Then immediately he goes to the next description of the bird being in your brain one day or the birdcage of your ribs (I liked the imagery of the ribcage being a birdcage). Reading the poetry in Collin’s book made me realize the importance of clarity and the power of metaphors/similes like we read in Kooser’s work.

    Collins, Billy. Poetry 180 A Turning Back To Poetry. Random House, Inc. 2003.

  13. Cassidy Kramer

    I really enjoyed reading pages xv-157 of Billy Collins book, “poetry 180”. At the beginning of this section of the course I was very excited to learn about poems, but once we started getting into them, I started thinking to myself “these are just not for me”. The complexity of poems is extremely intimidating for me. It took forever for me to interpret a poem that seemed to be interpreted so easily by others.
    When I read the introduction of Collins book, I started to sigh in relief at the little effort it would take to hear these poems. I do believe that the complex poems of today do scare away readers, because it almost scared me off. The poems in Collin’s book brought me back. Like it says on the cover, “A Turning Back to Poetry”. I love the poems that are featured in the book. A couple of my favorites, the ones that I so happened to write down, were poem 20, 27, and 96.
    Poem 20 is called “Bestiary for the Fingers of my Right Hand” by Charles Simic. I think it is very interesting how Simic wrote a poem about each of his fingers. The thumb being the strongest of them, able to live by itself. The pointer telling him where to go, the middle finger being an old man at birth, ring finger is a mystery, and the pinky a weak, gentle weightless limb. It makes me wonder how he thought to write about his hand. He must have just been sitting there thinking about what to write about, and started to write about his hand. It is very humorous that he did this in my opinion. I mean, it is a hand. What type of deep meaning and poetry are you supposed to get out of it. Although somehow, Simic got it out.
    Poem 27 is named “It’s Raining in Love” by Richard Brautigan. I like it because it explains what having a crush is like. You start to get nervous, and like Brautigan says, “I start to examine, evaluate, compute what I am saying”. I feel the same way when I get nervous, not just with a crush. Brautigan also talks about how he is so relieved when it is the other person that is nervous, and he is on the other side, safe from nervousness.
    Another poem that I found amusing was “The Bagel” written by David Ignatow. All it talks about is how he dropped his bagel that is rolling and he is chasing it. It probably has another meaning, or could have another meaning, but I just want to keep it at that. A man running after a bagel. Simply wonderful.
    In conclusion, I really like reading these simple poems. I believe they sparked an interest in me, and now I no longer despise reading poetry. I found these three poems amusing, along with many others that I didn’t write down. Random, simple, and easy. Now that is a book I like reading.

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