In Ruth Forman's "Poetry Should Ride the Bus," how do the images in each stanza reveal the speaker's attitude toward poetry? Do you agree with the poem's ideas about what poetry should do and be?

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The poem argues that poetry should be a bright, positive force that is interwoven into the fabric of everyday life, not "out there" in a dusty library tome nobody reads.

In the first stanza, Forman uses the imagery of a polka-dotted dress and doing cartwheels down the street to show...

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The poem argues that poetry should be a bright, positive force that is interwoven into the fabric of everyday life, not "out there" in a dusty library tome nobody reads.

In the first stanza, Forman uses the imagery of a polka-dotted dress and doing cartwheels down the street to show how poetry can brighten and sustain us in a childlike way even as we pass unhappy scenes such as crack houses. This imagery and juxtaposition of poetry's brightness with the dark elements of society continues in the second stanza, when Forman compares a poem to "bright red lipstick" and being pretty even as men shoot "craps" around the corner.

Poetry should also wear "plum suits" but not be so "educated" it can't sit on the porch steps with ordinary people and chat. It should be tucked between dinner foods like greens and chicken wings. Poetry should bring hope and "revolution" into everyday life.

All these metaphors describe poetry as a form that should be written in everyday language that anyone can understand. It should radiate a positive force that can help people as they walk down the street or ride the bus or sit on their porch steps.

Yes, I agree with this theory of poetry. I agree that poetry shouldn't be a dry academic exercise so full of arcane words and allusions that nobody can understand it. All of this hearkens back to Wordsworth's introduction to the Lyrical Ballads, a Romantic manifesto that declared poetry should be written in common language about common things and act as an uplifting force in the world.

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Ruth Forman's "Poetry Should Ride the Bus" is metafictional and humorous. The poem is also didactic, meaning that it aims to teach or instruct: it explains what poetry "should" do. It also achieves a comic effect by juxtaposing the conventional "high art" of poetry with everyday and entertaining things like "wear[ing] a polka dot dress," "play[ing] hopscotch," and "wear[ing] bright red lipstick." The metafictional aspect results from the poem's being about poetry itself.

It is worth noting that the poem exhibits several types of figurative language. The first is anaphora, the repetition of the first part of a sentence. Here, the repetition is at the beginning of each stanza: "poetry should . . ." The poem also personifies poetry throughout the poem by ascribing human actions to the abstract idea of poetry (e.g., "poetry should wear bright red lipstick").

The final two stanzas maintain this personification, but they also add more gravity to the actions recommended, as these actions demonstrate emotions rather than just portraying behaviors. The second half of the poem insists that poetry should "drop by a sweet potato pie / ask about the grandchildren," "sing red revolution love songs," and "whisper electric blue magic . . . never forgettin (sic) to look you in the soul." Poetry should not only be outrageous; it should be accessible in everyday affairs and also emotionally provocative.

Forman's poem also employs descriptive but simple language to portray everyday events, such as "poetry should ride the bus / in a fat woman's Safeway bag / between the greens n chicken wings." Her message is that real poetry is not high-brow or abstruse; it is to be found in the beauty of common events.

Poetry is an art, and so its interpretation and appreciation will naturally be subjective. Regardless of interpretation, however, one can certainly appreciate Forman's departure from an understanding of poetry as something that necessarily exhibits complicated conceits and esoteric allusions.

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