“Unable to burn”

Ron Charles, a literary critic, writes in the Washington Post of his approach to modern poetry:

…I stopped demanding that every poem yield its concealed meaning… Instead I just read — often aloud — letting the words flow over me and affect me however they could.

…I found it takes a lot more discipline to withhold one’s judgment, to muzzle one’s consternation and simply let the lines work…

Gradually poets I’d once considered impenetrable filled me with awe instead of bafflement.

I believe it works better with poetry that is formally well-organized: try reading a traditional poem aloud in a language your know very superficially.

Charles quotes from The Lushness of It by Mary Szybist. It’s a well-made poem, as modern verse goes, and obviously not a bunch of pretentious nonsense but a remarkably intelligible text. It might work as a concise theological treatise. However, I feel it is related to my notion of poetry as octopuses are related to mammals and birds.

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