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Beautiful and Pointless

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April 10, 2011, 20:43
Kalleh
Beautiful and Pointless
I have not read David Orr's "Beautiful and Pointless," which is a guide to modern poetry, but I intend to. Since we often talk about poetry here, I thought maybe others might want to read it. David Kirby reviewed it in the NY Times Book Review and gave it a thumbs up. Read the review, but it sounds good to me.
April 11, 2011, 06:14
zmježd
Seems like a good read. I'm not so sure that saying one thing and meaning something else is not a characteristic of language in general and not something that only poetry does. Also, a lot of the "code cracking" that occurs when trying to read (understand) poetry has to do with its poetical qualities.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
April 11, 2011, 20:39
Kalleh
I also think it's okay to interpret poetry differently from how the author had meant it. It's interesting to know what the author was thinking, but also poetry speaks to each of us differently, I think.
April 12, 2011, 06:03
zmježd
I also think it's okay to interpret poetry differently from how the author had meant it.

I just finished rereading Harold Bloom's Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. His thesis is that all of poetry is misread (he uses the term misprision) or misinterpreted. It's a short book and was a fun read.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
April 13, 2011, 19:42
Kalleh
Sounds good, z. Maybe I'll read it.

I might disagree with him, though, that poetry is "misread." You read it in your particular way, and so what if you don't get from it what the author had intended?
April 14, 2011, 08:52
zmježd
I might disagree with him, though, that poetry is "misread."

I always felt that misread was in scare quotes while reading his book. Read it and we can discuss.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
April 26, 2011, 15:59
bethree5
I'm with Kalleh on this one. I occasionally write poetry, and have found the most interesting aspect is to understand what others have taken from the work. Kirby sounds nonplussed at some of the reactions he gets, but then it sounds like he was dealing with less experienced readers who regard a poem as a clever code requiring a rosetta stone to obtain "the" meaning.

Glad to have read this review I somehow missed, not the least for its mention of other similar works which sound worth reading, as does the Bloom work mentioned by zmj.