If you’re reading this, chances are you know how much I love, and champion, poetry. You may also be aware of my quip that about a century ago, academics stole poetry from regular people, and ever since, some of us have been trying to steal it back.
Which is to say, as clever as academic poetry may sometimes be, it too often lacks any real heart or conviction. And too often, it seems, it chooses to be obscure for the same reason academics use unnecessarily obfuscatory terms in prose—to avoid appearing “common.”
For some time, then, I’ve cast disparaging glances at what to me seemed an unnecessarily difficult poem: Wallace Stevens‘ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Still, something about the poem continued calling to me, as if a blackbird were cawing to draw my attention, and I just couldn’t understand what it wanted.