We’ve made it to the poetry unit! Ars poetica in essence, is poetry about poetry. Sometimes it’s poetry about the art of poetry, like Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica.” Ars poetica can also be a poem inspired by another poem, which is exactly the kind of ars poetica we’re writing this week. The assignment for the first poem is to read through Roads of the Roma: a PEN Anthology of Gypsy Writers, edited by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, and Rajko Djuric, and find a poem that inspires you to write your ars poetica poem. You can also look up Romani poetry and find poems via alternative sources. For your blog entry then, give the title, author, and translator (if applicable) of the poem you’ve chosen and analyze the poem in 300 words or more. Be sure to explain what inspires you about it. So you’ll be writing your blog response and your ars poetica poem on the same poem.
About analyzing poetry: A poem is not a code that must be cracked– there are no hidden meanings, and there’s no need to treat words as symbols that stand for something other than what they mean. So, if you don’t understand a word in a poem, look it up! The FSU Library website will give you access to the Oxford English Dictionary, and that’s my favorite dictionary in the whole world because it gives a thorough etymology and history of a word as well as its definitions. Search for the OED as you would search for a database on the library website.
Anyway, poetry is about crystallizing language to convey an emotional, intellectual, physical, and/or spiritual experience. T.S. Eliot writes, “Poetry cannot report the event; it must be the event, lived through in a form that can speak about itself while remaining wholly itself.” So read the poem you’ve chosen quite a few times. So if I picked “Tears of Blood” by Papusza, the mother of Romani poetry, I would take notes to answer these questions: What is happening in the present action of the poem? How does the poem make me feel? What’s the tone? What’s the language like? What are the important images and sensory details? Which are my favorite lines and why? What are the symbols used? Tip: The poems we’ll be reading from the anthology all deal with Romani culture and identity in some way, so that will be important in your analysis too.
Some important poetic terms: imagery, sensory detail, simile, metaphor, sound, assonance, consonance, rhythm, meter, rhyme, slant rhyme, irony, personification, allegory, synecdoche, metonymy and symbolism. Look up any terms that you’re not familiar with, or bring them up in class. We’ll talk about most of them, but you might still have specific questions. How does the poet use these elements? These are the most common poetic devices. How does the poet use them? What is the effect?
And then the easy part of the response: What do you like about the poem? Why? If you want, you can use this entry to brainstorm about what your ars poetica poem might be like.
“I too am a dark Gypsy,
of your blood–a true one.
God help you
in the black forest…”
Papusza, excerpted from “Tears of Blood,” translated from Polish by Yala Korwin
Papusza, the mother of Romani poetry. Image source: http://www.polskieradio.pl