What Do You Enjoy About Poetry?In this month's "Writer's Chronicle," Charles Harper Webb talks about what features of a poem make poetry enjoyable, "drama, conflict, a problem to be...

What Do You Enjoy About Poetry?

In this month's "Writer's Chronicle," Charles Harper Webb talks about what features of a poem make poetry enjoyable, "drama, conflict, a problem to be solved, exceptional images" (Vol 40, No. 5, 65). 

What else can you add to Webb's list?  Or examples from particular poems of the aspects he identifies? 

9 Answers | Add Yours

sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

While I have a high respect for free verse, what I love most about poetic language is cadence - whether in poetic form or interspersed in prose.  When language has a rhythm and flow unto itself, through the use of parallelism or repetition or rhyme, it takes on a life of its own.  It starts to inhabit us and infect us, like the catchy beat of a popular song.  To be able to create that beat without the assistance of musical instruments is pure genius.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Haikus are wonderful for evoking mood.  Take these for example.  (Cat Haikus)

You never feed me.

Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.

That will sure show you.

 

You must scratch me there!

Yes, above my tail! Behold,

Elevator butt.

 

I need a new toy.

Tail of black dog keeps good time.

Pounce! good dog! good dog!

 

The rule for today:

Touch my tail, I shred your hand.

New rule tomorrow.

 

In deep sleep hear sound

Cat vomit hairball somewhere

Will find in morning

 

Grace personified,

I leap into the window.

I meant to do that.

 

Blur of motion, then --

Silence, me, a paper bag.

What is so funny?

 

The mighty hunter

Returns with gifts of plump birds --

Your foot just squashed one

 

You're always typing.

Well, let's see you ignore my

Sitting on your hands.

Terrible battle.

I fought for hours. Come and see!

What's a 'term paper'?

 

Kitty likes plastic

Confuses for litter box

Don't leave tarp around

 

Small brave carnivores

Kill pine cones and mosquitoes

Fear vacuum cleaner

 

Want to trim my claws?

Don't even think about it!

My yelps will wake dead.

 

I want to be close

To you. Can I fit my head

inside your armpit?

 

Wanna go outside.

Oh, shit! Help! I got outside!

Let me back inside!

 

I love them. You know, cats are just natural poets, aren't they?

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Haikus are wonderful for evoking mood.  Take these for example.  (Cat Haikus)

You never feed me.

Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.

That will sure show you.

 

You must scratch me there!

Yes, above my tail! Behold,

Elevator butt.

 

I need a new toy.

Tail of black dog keeps good time.

Pounce! good dog! good dog!

 

The rule for today:

Touch my tail, I shred your hand.

New rule tomorrow.

 

In deep sleep hear sound

Cat vomit hairball somewhere

Will find in morning

 

Grace personified,

I leap into the window.

I meant to do that.

 

Blur of motion, then --

Silence, me, a paper bag.

What is so funny?

 

The mighty hunter

Returns with gifts of plump birds --

Your foot just squashed one

 

You're always typing.

Well, let's see you ignore my

Sitting on your hands.

Terrible battle.

I fought for hours. Come and see!

What's a 'term paper'?

 

Kitty likes plastic

Confuses for litter box

Don't leave tarp around

 

Small brave carnivores

Kill pine cones and mosquitoes

Fear vacuum cleaner

 

Want to trim my claws?

Don't even think about it!

My yelps will wake dead.

 

I want to be close

To you. Can I fit my head

inside your armpit?

 

Wanna go outside.

Oh, shit! Help! I got outside!

Let me back inside!

 

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

What Do You Enjoy About Poetry?

In this month's "Writer's Chronicle," Charles Harper Webb talks about what features of a poem make poetry enjoyable, "drama, conflict, a problem to be solved, exceptional images" (Vol 40, No. 5, 65). 

What else can you add to Webb's list?  Or examples from particular poems of the aspects he identifies? 

I'll add to those features a heightened sense of language and the evocation of mood. The poems that I love most manage to create (for me at least) a kind of melancholy frisson, much like a color might. It's not an intellectual response but more of an emotional or sensory one. Here's what I mean, a short poem from one of my favorites, Jacques Prevert:

An orange on the table
Your dress on the rug
And you in my bed
Sweet gift of the present
Freshness of the night
Warmth of my life

So for you a poem is almost like a stilllife or other form of painting. I like that--sounds like a lesson plan to me: Interpret a painting by writing a poem about it. I have had students choose poems to illustrate, but I haven't had them do the opposite. I'm going to try that.

scott-locklear's profile pic

Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

What Do You Enjoy About Poetry?

In this month's "Writer's Chronicle," Charles Harper Webb talks about what features of a poem make poetry enjoyable, "drama, conflict, a problem to be solved, exceptional images" (Vol 40, No. 5, 65). 

What else can you add to Webb's list?  Or examples from particular poems of the aspects he identifies? 

I'll add to those features a heightened sense of language and the evocation of mood. The poems that I love most manage to create (for me at least) a kind of melancholy frisson, much like a color might. It's not an intellectual response but more of an emotional or sensory one. Here's what I mean, a short poem from one of my favorites, Jacques Prevert:

An orange on the table
Your dress on the rug
And you in my bed
Sweet gift of the present
Freshness of the night
Warmth of my life
kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I have one cat named Bartleby and another 20lb black cat named RuPaul.  The names suit them.  Though  I think Ru's only thought is, "How might I best eat the hamster?"

Okay, all kidding aside, I think Webb has a point when he argues that poetry takes a certain level of sophistication.  A good, poem, one with longevity, must engage on levels beyond the surface interpretation.  I cited Brooks' poem, "The Pool Players," in another post:

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

I think this is one that speaks to multiple levels, as Webb says a good poem must do.

Another two which immediately come to mind are Pounds, "In the Station of the Metro":

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

And, William Carlos Williams', "This is Just to Say":

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

 

 

I love William Carlos Williams' "This is Just to Say," as well!  It is a wonderful poem for discussion in the classroom.  My students love it.

linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Since we're talking about cats....Someone once told me that if you wait long enough, a cat will tell you its name. I thought that was good advice, and I never name a cat anymore until I have really gotten to know its personality or "style." My poor Bitsy Bedelia is very sick this morning, and I'm very worried about her.

Back to poetry: What makes a poem memorable is those expressions or turns of phrase that stick with you and that you find some way to slip into your conversations whenever you can. One of my favorite sayings is Randall Jarrell's "Boredom is the lack of inner resources."

I also had to memorize Chaucer's Prologue in Middle English. Did anybody else memorize the Lord's Prayer in Old English?

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I have one cat named Bartleby and another 20lb black cat named RuPaul.  The names suit them.  Though  I think Ru's only thought is, "How might I best eat the hamster?"

Okay, all kidding aside, I think Webb has a point when he argues that poetry takes a certain level of sophistication.  A good, poem, one with longevity, must engage on levels beyond the surface interpretation.  I cited Brooks' poem, "The Pool Players," in another post:

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

I think this is one that speaks to multiple levels, as Webb says a good poem must do.

Another two which immediately come to mind are Pounds, "In the Station of the Metro":

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

And, William Carlos Williams', "This is Just to Say":

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

 

malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I agree with the exceptional images part, but am not sure if a poem has to have drama or conflict to be enjoyable.  But then, that's why I think poetry is cool - It is such a wide and varied genre that there is something in it that everyone can find and enjoy, if they just give it a chance.

I mentioned "The Naming of Cats" in a separate post, and I thought I would share a couple of the parts that appeal to me with regards to imagery:

"But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?"

Then later in the poem,

"When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name."

Love it! :)

We’ve answered 318,996 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question