In "I Interview Rice Students About Poetry", I, you guessed it, interview Rice students about poetry, that oft perplexing arrangement of words.
How would you define poetry?
Student 1: I guess poetry is the use of words to paint a picture of something?
Student 2: Poetry is for people who want to express a sentiment but don't have enough words to make it prose.
Student 3: Words?
How frequently do you read poetry?
Student 1: Never.
Student 2: (laughs) Every goddamn day.
Student 3: I don't really read poetry, but I used to watch a lot of spoken word shit.
Can you name any famous modern poets?
Student 1: Rupi...shit.
Student 2: Shel Silverstein.
Student 3: Modern poets? What do you mean by modern poets?
From the last 30-40 years.
Student 3: There's that one guy...Robert Frost. Oh, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss!
What do you think poetry's role is as a creative or artistic genre?
Student 1: Its role is to allow people to express themselves in a way that they might find typical writing limits them.
Student 2: I think that it's good for expressing emotions, because sometimes you write too many words to where you lose the feeling you're going for. So I think that poetry is good for feelings. Like in the ambiguities, it lets people understand what you're trying to say.
Student 3: It's like an outlet for expression...I guess. I don't know, poetry's weird. It's like, you can literally make some grunts, and then title it 'Grunts', and that's a poem.
What's your least favorite poem?
Student 1: I pulled this up because I read it in sixth grade and I was really mad at poetry then because I thought it was really stupid.
The Red Wheelbarrow
By William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
And that's the whole poem! That makes me really angry.
Student 2: Also William Carlos Williams: I find this super funny because from what has been described to me about this poem, they just found it on his desk after he died, and
no one can figure out if it was an actual poem or just a note on his desk.
This Is Just To Say
By William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
What is something about poetry that confuses you?
Student 1: So you know when you're little and you learn that poems rhyme? And then you get to fifth grade and they stop rhyming. And that just like really threw me off.
Student 2: If you only keep reading Shel Silverstein, you never have that problem.
What makes a poem good?
Student 1: Not The Red Wheelbarrow poem.
It makes you feel something. I know that sounds really corny, but when I read Rupi Kaur, I'm like, holy shit, do I feel it. When I read Milk & Honey, I just like sat there and was like, this woman just put her whole life on display for everyone in the most beautiful way. And that's why I struggle with the genre of poetry because I feel that very few poems do actually make me feel the way her writing did.
Student 2: I really like the extremes to which you can go with poetry, which was kinda why I really liked Shel Silverstein. His poems are always weird, and I feel like people don't write enough weird poems.
Student 3: When it speaks to you. When a lot of people find that they can connect with it.
Written by Sanvitti S.
Inspired by The Adroit Journal’s We Ask Our Parents About Poetry.