Sunday, October 24, 2010

On Reading Poems to a Senior Class at South High by D. C. Berry

I opened my poetry packet today and the first thing I saw was the first paragraph in this poem. “Before I opened my mouth I noticed them sitting there as orderly as frozen fish in a package.” Well that was quite an attention getter, a very unusual simile, to say the least, and I was curious as to what the author was talking about. So I read the whole thing, and I was definitely not disappointed. I loved it. It was so perfect, something I would never have thought of before.

The whole aquarium concept was intriguing. The author says he tried to “drown them with [his] words,” but instead the students had “opened up like gills.” Maybe it was because he had expected a different reaction from the students to the regaling of his poems, that they were just more interested in what he had to say than was anticipated. At least, that’s how I perceived it.

“Together we swam around the room like thirty tails whacking words till the bell rang puncturing a hole in the door…” Whacking words around sounded like a sort of discussion, so I assumed they had been analyzing his poetry, or at least just talking about it. But this description left such a comical image in my mind after I finished it that I couldn’t help but wonder how exactly the author felt about the students and his poetry. I couldn’t really tell whether he was happy that the students were not completely absent from reality while he was talking, or if he was indifferent to the defrosted fish sitting in front of him. .

And he didn’t seem too interested in what his audience thought of him: in that respect, he was very unaware and indifferent. In fact, he didn’t seem to care about anything in this poem, I felt like there was no real importance in anything he was trying to say. It was just a quiet description of a room full of students turning into fish as they listened to poetry. There was no passionate idea or essence of the author that I could find, it just existed. But I feel like that fit the subject of this poem very well: many people hear poetry impassively, not absorbing anything from it, and continuing on with their daily lives like nothing happened, even if what did happen was extraordinary. There are, though, those somewhat rare people who will take a poem and really think deeply about it and immerse themselves in the ideas it may introduce. So I considered this poem not only a simile of students to fish, but a comparison of our society to unresponsive, dispassionate beings when it comes to the appreciation of poetry.

1 comment:

  1. I like this poem--for many of the reasons you suggest. It's a twist on poetry and on us, actually!