Friday, August 7, 2009

On Poets & Poetry

I've tried to bring poetry to this blog in my own small way but I know most people - heck, everyone - doesn't really have time, or the inclination, to enjoy it. Well, now a new book, “On Poets & Poetry” by William H. Pritchard attempts to correct that and make a case for the pleasures of poetry:
Most readers of poetry will credit a gifted critic or teacher who first led them through an ode by Keats or a sonnet by Shakespeare. Such careful guidance, often line by line, reveals marvels of imagery here, musical flourishes there, and a deepened sense of the poet’s concerns. What’s more, it ­encourages readers to discover poetry’s enriching and pleasurable effects for themselves. “The elucidation of works of art,” T.S. Eliot wrote, is half of the critic’s job; the other half, he said, was “the correction of taste.”

William H. Pritchard has been elucidating works of art for his students at Amherst College for more than 50 years—and, for almost as long, correcting (or ­guiding) the taste of readers at the Times Literary ­Supplement, the Hudson Review and other literary publications. In the preface to ­“On Poets & ­Poetry,” he extols the ­c­lassroom as “the only place where ­something like a ­conversation can be started” about
literature. “One doesn’t expect to have such a conversation,” he sighs, “when dining at a friend’s or even when passing the time with a ­professional colleague.” If even English professors can’t chat about their reading, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Hey, poetry is easy to read so why not find a way to work in some to your reading. As you know, my favorite poet right now is Billy Collins; his work is easy accessible, wryly funny, rewarding if you choose to dig a little deeper but enjoyable enough if you don't. Find your own favorite. It'll be worth your time.

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