Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ownership In Poetry

No two people can read one poem the same way. Each reader reads a different poem. Each reader owns their version of that poem. Except for one poet. Billy Collins.

Though his poems usually allow for some contemplation in the final two stanzas, they are aimed so the reader will often understand only what the poet wants the poem to mean. Much of his work offers little difficulty for the reader trying to understand it. However, this legibility creates blunt, bland poems. The penultimate stanza too often becomes the corner of the poem, the place where the poet enters the contemplative realm. This repetition of form suggests a poetic stagnation or dependency on the familiar. His poems lack experimentation. This idea of ownership is one I have come on before in his work. I conclude that he is easy and enjoyable to read once, but hard to remember because his poems feature only one layer of depth. He ties the reader to his poems, and beats them with the hose of his repetitive structures, themes, and allusions, as well as his overly prosaic language. And when the poem is done, he takes it back and the reader leaves with nothing.

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