Normally I do movie reviews on Mondays, but the hubby and I have been watching season one of Spartacus, so I thought I'd post about something else that I've been want to discuss on my blog, but have been putting off: Poetry (shudder, cringe, starting to feel nauseous).
Okay, so here's the deal with me and poetry.
I don't like it. I HATE it. I despise it. I...fear it.
Gasp. What?? Oh my God! What did she just say? Gasp. Gasp. Can't. Breathe. WTF? Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Get the noose people! This girl is out of her fucking mind!
Yeah, I thought some of you might react that way. But now ask me why.
Okay. Why Melanie, why on this good God's Earth would you say such a thing?!?
Why? Because of my eleventh grade English Lit teacher.
Yep. Isn't that terribly sad??? I know. Here's what happened--
Many eons ago when I was in the eleventh grade, My English Lit teacher gave us an exam and one of the questions on this exam was a poem we had never seen before (I don't remember the author or the name of the poem, but I remember it had something to do with fish, I think, who friggin' knows. Anyway...). The question on the exam asked us to read a given poem and give our interpretation of the Poet's meaning behind a particular line in the poem. Okay. Easy enough right? Right.
A couple of days later I get my exam back and I have a C on the exam. I'm usually a B student so I didn't love seeing a C on my paper. I look it over to see where I lost so many points and low and behold, I lost a huge chunk of points on that poem question. The difference between a C and a B and that to me was a big deal. But the thing was, there was no explanation about why I lost so many points on that question, so I went to her to ask her about it. (The following is a very rough recollection of that conversation. It was a long time ago)
Me: Why did I lose so many points on this question?
Her: Because you didn't understand what the poem was saying.
Me: But you asked us to give you our interpretation of what that line meant, so how can you say I was wrong?
Her: You didn't understand what the poet was trying to say. That wasn't what the poem was about.
Me: But I gave you MY interpretation of that line. You asked us to give you our individual interpretation based on a poem we've never seen so how can you say I was wrong? That's totally unfair.
Her: I'm sorry, but if you read the poem carefully, you would have understood what the poet was trying to say in that line. I can't give you any points on it.
Me: But, this was a poem we've never seen or discussed before. My iterpretation therefore is going to be based on my own background knowledge and experiences. How can you say the way I interpreted a poem I've never seen is wrong??? (Why, yes...I did end up majoring in psychology in college. Why do you ask?)
Her: Sorry. I'm not going to give you any points on it. You misinterpreted the poem.
Me: @#^^&*%^&*#% (not to her, in my head). I walk away...pissed and changed.
So, there you have it. Does it make sense that I would suddenly hate poetry? You see, this teacher made me believe that all poems are written with one specific meaning behind it. That there is only one interpretation to what a poem is saying and means. And that I should totally understand every poem and what that particular poet (whom I don't know squat about) is trying to say. After that experience, I thought to myself, Why bother? I don't understand what they're saying anyway. Why should I care. I don't get it and my interpretation will probably always be wrong. There's no room for individual interpretation in poetry, so unless I'm writing my own...who friggin cares.
I believe in my heart that this teacher was wrong, but I can't help but feel permanently tainted when it comes to poetry.
I know this may seems so sad to some of you because it is to me. This one teacher killed my possibility to love poetry. And to be honest, I think she kind of killed my love for reading as I can recall from that moment on, not enjoying reading. Reading to me was about text books for school and work and papers and homework. There was no joy to be had in reading, especially when it was subject to interpretation.
It is only in the last 7 years or so that I have slowly begun to find pleasure in reading, but I will admit, I still hide from poetry like it's the plague. I don't want to feel that way, but I don't know how to get over this feeling that if I read a poem, I won't be able to "get it." And I know I shouldn't have to and it really pisses me off that I think I should. That teacher has NO IDEA what she did to me. How she killed my love for the very subject she was teaching.
I hope one day to find joy in poetry because I know I'm missing so much beautiful literature out there. It's funny because when I see a small poem in the beginning of a novel, I groan and turn the page. I LOVED the book Paper Towns, but hated the parts that referred to the poem that the whole story was based around. I literally cringed and felt my heart race every time the MC started reading that damn poem.
PLEASE TELL ME I'M NOT CRAZY AND THAT MY ELEVENTH GRADE LIT TEACHER WAS WRONG AND THAT SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO TEACH THAT CLASS (or any class for that matter!)
And thanks for letting me vent about this. It's been pent up in me for a VERY LONG TIME.
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