A Philistine’s Guide to Poetry || A wheelbarrow with chickens

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams1883 – 1963
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

This is the only thing I remember reading in my college writing class. It’s also the first poem I actually liked. It’s ridiculous and short, but it makes me smile.

I’m told there is beauty in poetry – it’s the language of romance, after all – but I just don’t get it.  Why read a poem, so often abstract and akin to a mind puzzle, when instead you could pick up a book and immerse yourself in Austen, Tolkien, or Lewis? It is a puzzlement.  It demands something different from other types of writing. Whereas fiction usually takes you from point a to point b in a more or less direct way, poetry gets you to point b by way of a four-hour layover in Cleveland when your flight was from Denver to San Francisco. It baffles the mind.

Still, much like Shakespeare, it seems to be something I should give another chance. If anyone has any insights or suggestions on cultivating an appreciation of poems, please share below. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me as this philistine stumbles her way through the poets.


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