Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Reflection on Learning about the “Textual Construction of Poetry”

         While studying English as I child, I always regarded poetry as nothing more than a creative outlet.  It would have been simply a method of expressing feelings of sadness, love, joy, and basically any other human emotion.  However, after attending Dr. Luo’s lecture on the “Textual Construction of Poetry,” I ultimately learned that poetry involves much more than simply putting words on paper, and responding to external stimuli.  By the end of the lecture, I realized that poetry involves much more than just language because it incorporates sound and emotion to create a beautiful, and sometimes personal, work of art.

            As the lecture began, I learned about the importance of sound within poetry.  Initially, Dr. Luo shared with the audience the poem “The Span of Life” by Robert Frost.  The line “The old dog barks backward without getting up” is actually a difficult line to say because the syllables are rougher.  In contrast, the second line, which is “I can remember when he was a pup,” is actually easier to say because the idea of “tender” sounds with not that many consonants.  Learning this lesson from Dr. Luo made me realize that poetry involves much more than words because there needs to be a sort of rhythm that would make a poem distinct.  Such an idea also directly relates to the theme of my Senior Seminar class, which is “Music and Literature.”  In the end, poetry involves much more than language because the sounds of the words create a musical element within written work that could either add to the aesthetic quality of a poem, or cause it to lack any sort of credibility.  A word can stand alone, but the combination of words creates art.

            I was also fascinated by how the structure of a poem affects its overall impact on readers.  For example, Dr. Luo mentioned how George Herbert’s poem, “The Altar,” suggests the image of a tower.  I am very fond of poetry that involves unusual forms, such as poems by poets like e e cummings, in which the overall look of the poem contributes to its overall meaning.  I adore this type of unconventional poetry because it allows me to challenge generally typical types of writing, and inspire me to write creative work that also defies the ordinary.  Dr. Luo’s presentation of such a unique poem reveals how any type of writing can be special in its own way, and that writing does not have any rules or regulations at all.  Viewing such a special piece of literature reminds me of how writing can sometimes be plain and ordinary, but art transcends the conventional, and becomes something that is truly extraordinary.

            By the end of Dr. Luo’s presentation, I learned about how modern and contemporary poetry distinguishes itself from other types of writing that was done in the past.  Dr. Luo discussed the idea of “textual density,” (Dr. Luo’s PowerPoint) which adds a sense of depth to a piece of art.  It was fascinating to learn about what makes a piece of writing a work of art, and what factors distinguish the differences between ordinary writing and literature.  I believe that some of the greatest writers who ever lived, like Emily Dickinson and Lord Byron, were able to understand how to make their writing have a sense of density so that their work became timeless.

            Finally, I already know that I am not the best writer in the world, but I still do my best to learn how to improve myself.  Finally, I like to think that even though there is a distinction between art and something that lacks value, all people are artists because we all try to express ourselves by living the lives that we all have.  Sometimes creative individuals struggle with creating something truly magnificent, but all people do their best to work on the ultimate canvas, which is life itself.  Not all of us can be famous, but we can all enjoy the wonder of being alive.

Works Cited

Luo, Lianggong.  “The Textual Construction of Poetry.”  California State
           University—Los Angeles English Department.  Room E & T A 129 at California
           State  University—Los Angeles.  7 April 2015.  PowerPoint Presentation.

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