Sunday, January 02, 2022

inside the well

One of my most recent freelance projects was a short piece on poetic devices, which was actually the first time I claimed a poetry-related piece to work on. Most of them have been novels, or artists. A little mythology. Besides writing on Sirens in The Odyssey a couple weeks back, I hadn't yet wandered into verse. I claimed it eagerly enough, but when I sat down to review my notes and actually write it out, I felt panicked.  It's the difference I suppose of writing from the outside as opposed to the inside. Obviously, I use things like symbolism and figurative language all the time, but I don't talk about them much.  Even when I was in my lit programs, I read far more fiction and drama than poems.  Most of it was older--Shakespeare and Milton. A smattering of Eliot and Emily Dickinson. I still don't always feel completely at home talking about poetry in an abstract way.  Because there is so much going on in my head, it's hard to corral that into something that makes sense to someone else, especially non-poets, as this particular piece required.

I suppose other forms of art, I approach as an observer or audience. Fiction, for example,  I approach as a reader,  and which I only occasionally dip my toes into.,  Art and art history which beyond collage, I am more of an audience than a practitioner. Mythology, which has always fascinated me. From outside the well, I can talk more coherently about what is happening or the historical context.  With poetry, I am more or less down the well and there is very little light. I've always wished i could say I was more intentional in my own work, but sometimes things just happen.

Many of the pieces that we are re-writing are broader delves into material covered by a video lesson usually, which contains a transcript of the audio. We are supposed to augment those lessons with longer written content that delves deeper (while also amping up the SEO rankings.)  I laughed when I read the original poetry lesson transcript because, of course they mention Frost and his snowy evening poem.  While some things are limited by the outline provided and the quiz that already exists, I decided to swap him out for Pound and Dickinson.  I kept Randall Jarrell and Wordsworth who part of the lesson as it existed. I added Langston Hughes because things were just way too startlingly white in there.  It turned out better than I thought it would and apparently was coherent enough it needed no revisions, but I wondered afterwards why that one seemed so much harder than the other ones, including ones that I only had a slight familiarity with (like cyclorama paintings or The Castle of Otranto, which I'd only half-ass read in college to get a grasp on early gothics.)  Scanning through potential subject matter, there actually is less poetry in there than other genres, which makes me wonder if that's an area that online learning and homeschooling in general needs to beef up.  

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