Not Elves Exactly

On Saturday I had the opportunity to lead a poetry workshop at The Letters Festival here in Atlanta, at the Goat Farm (that’s the beautiful place where the picture above was taken). I chose to focus my workshop on the question of meaning in poetry, which is something I always shy away from (in past workshops, lectures, and panel discussions I would always opt to talk about specific things, like the use of sentences in poetry, or jokes), but this time I decided I’d tackle the essential question head on. Here are my notes.

Not Elves Exactly

John Ciardi, poet, fighter pilot, translator, etymologist, TV personality (d. 1989), says we shouldn’t ask “What does a poem mean” but “How does a poem mean.” This was in his 1960s book, How Does a Poem Mean. Continue reading “Not Elves Exactly”