Going back to my alma mater the other week as a published author was pretty surreal. Full circle in front of my old PITT professor’s Intro to Poetry class as I talked Poetry and path and answered questions about my book. A great crew of students he has to teach this semester. Made me feel like I went to a smart school. Or thumthin.
I saw myself in them (was them 10 years ago), and wondered if any of them saw their future selves in me.
Anyway, among many, one thing that stood out was one of the students pointed to one of my pieces and asked, “What makes this a poem?”
So true. Made for a fantastic discussion about “turn” and the kind of work the reader has to do in their own heads.
For me, sometimes I’m reading things, published things, and I’m like WTF? Not because I don’t understand it, but because I’m trying to figure out how it fits into what my brain and education tells me is a poem. Like many words before me, sometimes it takes a few reads. And even then there can be no certainty.
My question to you is, have you ever encountered a poem, or even written one yourself, and asked, “What makes this a poem?” What about it earned, or didn’t earn, such status?