CONCEPT: Just like in whole novel studies, experience is of primary importance in the study of poetry. Too often, students receive the message in their English classes that poetry exists to be analyzed. They learn terms, strategies and complicated acronyms to remember them--all in the service of solving a “poem-problem” with, what they understand is supposed to be a clear answer. As a reader, scholar and writer of poetry, I can say with confidence that poems are not built for a formulated analysis and rarely come with clear answers! I think the vast majority of English teachers would agree with me on this; yet sometimes, in effort to reach standards and keep kids on track, common classroom methods still push students into the understanding that we read poetry to analyze and arrive at a specific outcome.
If not analysis or a specific outcome, then what characterizes the experience of poetry?