Dear Liz Rosenberg,
It’s been 25 years but I still thank and think of you! Before taking your class during my Masters program at Colgate, I dreaded poetry. Sure, I could pick out the alliteration and meter and rhyme scheme, detected the similes and onomatopoeia. But what my teachers told me particular poems meant simply eluded me. I didn’t get it and hated being made to feel like I was “wrong”.
During this National Poetry Month, I celebrate the gift you gave me and all of your students- the belief that poems are onions and that each layer of interpreted meaning is valuable and significant. Beginning with Whitman and travelling to the likes of Akhmatova and Ginsber,
, I learned that my understanding had merit and beauty. Each poem we explored was replete with texture and aromas. I took this knowledge to my own teaching experience, impressing on my students the validity of their interpretations and the importance of those responses to their own experiences and human nature itself. The mystery and fear of Shakespeare and William Carlos Williams evaporated as my students discovered universal truth and themselves through broken sentences, abbreviated text and nontraditional punctuation. I am blessed with the existence of social media and internet detectiving to continue to know my students, many of whom have expressed their own gratitude for developing an appreciation of poetry under my guidance on the sidelines.
I hope that today, wherever life has guided you, that you continue to create the Fire Music that feeds your soul and our ears and eyes and rest in the recognition that you have made the difference to me and to many of the young men and women I have had the privilege to teach.
In honor of you and this special month , I will be posting a few of my rough poems to celebrate the joy of freedom from prose and the acknowledgement that no poem is ever finished!