Last semester, a group of us covered Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke. This semester, we're continuing our coverage of volumes of poetry by taking a look at works by Langston Hughes, Tyehimba Jess, Matejka, Jason McCall, Tony Medina, Frank X. Walker, and Kevin Young. What follows are reflections by some of the participants on what they've noticed about their approaches to reading and thinking while reading:
As I read and responded to the poetry, I realized that I never gave poetry enough of a chance in order to be able to understand its symbolism and power. When I read the poems of Langston Hughes and I was able to relate so much to his emotions towards societal and personal issues, it really opened my eyes to the beauty and power of poetry. --John H.
As a reader, I enjoy things that are not clear cut, but things that are multilevel and symbolic. I have learned that when I read things I try to think of a way to explain it so that it makes sense to me. By doing this, I can provide a new perspective on any topic and it is easier to remember because it is my original thought. --Isaiah B.
Something interesting that I learned about myself as a reader while reading the poems is that each time I re-read a poem my perception of the poem changes. There were many times that I have over-looked poems just because at first glance it seemed either confusing or boring. It takes a few times to pick up on all the little details that make a poem a masterpiece. --John K.
Something interesting and unusual that I’ve learned about myself is that not only do I enjoy reading poems, but I also enjoy writing and talking about them. Especially if they hold some relevance to my life like one of the volumes I had. But I also like the poems that have no relevance to me, but open my eyes to stuff that I hadn’t previously thought about, such as the struggles of the homeless. --Trion T.
One notable thing that I found myself doing while reading these poems is that when I read the poems slowly and multiple times, I really started to analyze the poems line by line and interpret what I think they mean. Even though I may be wrong trying to get what the author wrote, it was still kind of enjoyable thinking of what the author could possibly mean. -Xavier M.
Through the last reading responses I have learned that I enjoyed poems/writing that really connects with me, my interest, and shows me ways that can impact my everyday life. Although there can be many rough readings, there are indeed diamonds within them, diamonds definitely worth pursuing. --Joey N.
I have further enhanced my ability to think critically, after providing blurbs for two volumes of poetry that we have covered. When I say "think critically,” I am referring to the ability to make reasoned judgments that are well thought out. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way we express our ideas. --Nick M.
• Reading T. Jess, J. McCall, T. Medina, F. X. Walker & K. Young in 2015