Thursday, May 19, 2011

One more poem... while I'm too busy revising to write.

Billy Collins: nailed it. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and has been the USA Poet Laureate. The guy understands the trauma of teaching poetry to unwilling students! 
Interestingly, AQA used this poem as an example of the unseen poetry question in their practice paper for the new spec English Literature GCSE. Who says they don't have a sense of humour: that meant that I was actually forced to teach  this poem to kids. Sample remark: 'Is "Like a colour slide" a metaphor, miss?' And of course I don't give a shit about whether it's a metaphor or not. Not as long as they are incapable of telling me in one sentence what the poem is about, or who 'I' is, and who 'Them' is is the poem. Bless Their hearts.

Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

No comments: