Poet Robert Pinsky took part on 18 April 2006 in an online conversation hosted by the Washington Post newspaper. Among many thoughtful comments, a few leapt forward. In response to a question about how to improve one's literacy in poetry:

Everybody is different, but I think general, how-to books are less useful than starting with something you already love ... and reading more by that author. ... And, try reading aloud. Try typing out or writing out the words of a poem that interests you.

Concerning poetry that seems "purposely really obscure, or difficult to understand or parse," Pinsky suggests:

MERE difficulty is nothing. But a worthy difficulty, the difficulty of Milton or Dickinson or Wallace Stevens, is a great source of pleasure and light. ... A worthy difficulty about a difficult matter is a great, valuable gift.

And most delightful (to me, a sucker for self-reference) is Pinsky's reply to "How do you feel about the usage of metaphor in poetry?":

It's sugar.

(cf., RulesVersusPrinciples (23 Jun 1999), IambicHonesty1 (23 Apr2001), LyingVerses (15 Mar 2001), ...)

TopicPoetry - TopicHumor - TopicLanguage - TopicLiterature - 2006-05-02

(correlates: NoProblems, PoeticCredo, Angus Phillips, ...)