The second half of the semester, I started my Introduction to Poetry class, taught by the respectable oddity that is Prof. Greg Rappleye. I love this class so much, and there is a certain aching building in the hollow of my chest knowing that next semester I won’t be able to sit around in a circle of fifteen kids discussing whether to save a horse a student wrote about in her poem, listening listlessly to the professor speak on the history of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes for the umpteenth time, turning in a poem or two about not knowing what to write, and spilling hot blood on paper, sitting quietly as the rest of us critiqued your poem on workshop days.
This class is everything you would never think it would be. The common misconception about poetry is that it is suffocating, restricting, boring, and only for the pretentious whose noses are lifted high enough to touch the ceiling. The fact of the matter is that I have never felt more free. Prof. Rappleye does a peerless job of finding the silver lining in every student’s poem while giving solid, constructive criticism. When writing comments on our poems, he jots down “Great poem!” or “Great start!” and underlines it at least four times. We often hear him ask, “Is this wrong?” to which we’d give the resounding, “No.” Even formal poetry with strict guidelines feels more empowering than restricting. We are taught that the poem is not the slave of the form but the form a slave to the poem. And although the assignments are specified as in turning a Persona poem one day and a Poem of Address the other, the professor will always choose the poem even if it doesn’t necessarily write to the assignment.
I personally like drawing and painting (studio), but for those who don’t like that or performing arts and are looking for something to fulfill the Art II general education requirement, I highly recommend taking the Intro to Poetry class.
To send you off, here’s one of my favorite poems which we have read in this class: This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams.