Poets are trouble makers. They may look harmless in their jaunty berets and black turtlenecks, but don’t be fooled: they are subversive to their cores.
Some are deliberate in their subversion: they take issue with the status quo, question authority, and even call out the powers that be. Langston Hughes, for example, told white America that the days of oppression were numbered. The sneaky ones are just as dangerous. At first, their lines seem innocent. Read their work carefully, however, and you see what they are up to. They use language and subtleties to change the way you perceive, well, everything. What could be more dangerous than that?
Have you ever read Emily Dickenson? It’s like having a conversation with someone who has a secret, but doesn’t trust you enough to share it. It is maddening. Poe? His lines–so unnatural, so disconcerting–feature images that are equally bizarre. Just wait until you find out what the Raven REALLY is.
Or, at least, what I think the Raven is. The problem is that with Poe’s poetry, I am never really sure.
What does this have to do with you? Everything.
Next week, 16 poets will engage in a ferocious battle of lines. The battles will occur in series of rounds, with one round being completed every day. The rounds will focus on one element of poetry; the victorious poets will be rewarded points for their excellence. On the last day, we will tally the points, and whittle down our numbers until we are down to our final three poets. These poets will wage a war of words for the ages. No wagers, please.
Each day, you and at least one other student will make the case for one of the 16 poets. You will be paired against two other students who will represent their poet with equal tenacity. After having some time to read/discuss one of the poet’s works, you and your partner will have 5 minutes to make your case for this poem’s greatness.
Best of luck to all combatants. I mean subversives. No, wait. Poets.