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Discussion Questions Week 5

“On Not Betraying Poetry”

* Who is the intended audience of this piece? What characteristics of the style of writing do you
notice? Do you like the style? Look at the paragraphs on page 2.   How are cohesive words used to
string together the paragraphs?

The intended audiences of this piece are those who teach: scholars and critics (our students, as
scholars and critics). I notice that the writer continuously asks questions. I kind of like this because it
makes you consider the counter arguments. Nor, in any case, but: the writer uses these words to
make a cohesive piece of writing. They string together the paragraphs because nor indicates further
explanation of the previous notion, in any case a elaboration on the subject, and but a counter
thought/argument. All the paragraphs on page 2 depend on each other, and these words show this
perfectly.

1. The author is arguing in the article that some of the cultural lack of regard for poetry stems
from the way it is taught.  In your opinion, does a careful dissection of a poem in class
enhance or negate your appreciation?

A careful dissection of a poem in class only enhances my appreciation for the poem. It shows
me the story or meaning behind it, which in turn only makes me appreciate the piece more.
Dissecting a poem makes me admire the writer, for it makes me realize the effort and
thought that went into the poem, which I didn’t know anything about beforehand.

2. On page 8, the author claims that a poem “is, and should remain, a bird in flight.”   Are there,
though, limitations on interpretation? Are there, in other words, ‘wrong’ ways to interpret a
poem? How should this be enforced?

In my opinion, there cannot be a wrong interpretation of a poem. The thoughts and emotions
that the poem evoked in you while reading are real, and therefore your interpretation of it is
al well. However, you must read it carefully in order to create a valid interpretation.

3. How would you construct an argument to support that statement that “Poetry is an
important tool for education”?

I would say that poetry is an important tool for education, for it enhances our analytical skills.

4. On page 10, the author describes a poem as an island in a lake, and suggests that a poet
builds a bridge to reach the island, but that there are other means for readers to get there.  
Do you agree with this? To what extent should the author’s ‘intention’ be central to the
understanding of a work?

Yes, I do. A poem exists because of the emotions of the people who read it. Everyone might
have a different interpretation of it. Therefore, everyone might have a different ‘way to reach
the island.’ The author’s intentions are a one side of the understanding of the work, but not
as important as the emotions and interpretations of the readers. They shape the text to its
meaning: the author might sometimes be wrong about the meaning of a poem.