After completing my poetic profile of Bête Noir, I have a few thoughts on the process. I will enumerate them here.
- At first, seeing the list of everything I had to rank was a daunting and overwhelming task. A lot of the terms I had to look up, and some I could not find. Some questions seemed a little repetitive.
- Once I delved into it, however, I found it to be useful. Maybe it would be less so if I had more of a background in poetry, but I don’t. Trying to analyze a poem can be intimidating because I don’t know where to start. This gave me a good idea. Also, as someone who is used to writing for rubrics and following the rules, I found it comforting to have a structure in place to guide me. However, this also worked against me. I got so caught up in whether my rankings and answers were “right or wrong” that sometimes I lost the bigger picture of the poem and what it was trying to accomplish. I don’t think this is a problem with the list, though, so much as my attitude going into it.
- I found Shayla’s response to profiling very enlightening. She brought up a lot of points that I hadn’t thought of. I agree that having a list of terms reduces work to “our own personal dictionaries,” but that hadn’t occurred to me until I read her response. It does seem to encourage readers to go in with an expectant perspective. It reminds me of a grading rubric, as if these poets are writing to be assessed instead of to express something that must be expressed.
- So now my question is this: is it possible to come up with a standard method to asses something as creative and individual as poetry? Is it Bernstein’s list that feels restrictive, or is it the idea of trying to come up with a list at all? For someone like me who is new to reading and talking about poetry, the process of analyzing a poem is intimidating without structure.
- Maybe that’s okay, though, to be intimidated. Erica wrote on the blog that the best way to read experimental poetry is…….to read it. Maybe the best way to respond to it is…..to respond to it.
- One thing I will say for Bernstein’s list, though, is that it made me respond in ways I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I didn’t even know half of those literary terms, so I never would have thought to bring them into my analysis of the poem without the list.
- Okay, so my conclusion is this: the list is like training wheels. Once you know how to ride the bike, they slow you down. But when you’re first learning, they make it possible for you to start. The list is probably a good tool for me to begin looking at poetry, but once I’m better acquainted with it, I can probably get a more nuanced, less restrictive analysis without it.