Monday, November 14, 2011

Online responses to “For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers” by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Over the last few days, some of my students have been conversing online about
For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers” by Reginald Dwayne Betts. The poem appeared in the September 2011 issue of Poetry magazine, and we're discussing it in our "Black Nerds" course.

One of my students noted that "Repetition is used sparingly but is noticeable in the poet's use of the suffixes -philia and -phile which usually ends words which the poet mentions are words for 'love' or more so a love of something." That student went on to explain:
That use of repetition and the focus on the love of something directly relates to nerdom because of its specialization. Nerds are generally specialized in a particular subject and the poet's poem speaking on just the love of something in general is also specialized. The poet could have wrote place lover instead of "topophilia" but philia can give even non-defined words a technical feel which makes the poem technical and yet simple.

Another student noted that "this poem is a love poem for nerds to celebrate their love of higher knowledge and higher language use." The student concluded that Betts includes "the definitions for a lot of these words right there in the poem, so you don't have to run for your dictionary."

Someone else mentioned appreciating that the poem "includes a definition in the following line;" however, "I still went to the dictionary to see if I could find a trend."

The folks who commented mentioned enjoying the poem. Cool. Me too. I'm interested though that no one wrote about their experience reading the poem aloud. We'll discuss the piece together in class for the first time in the coming days so I'll look forward to having people read it in class with the group and consider our responses then.

Our in-class conversations about poetry tend to become more expansive. Folks have far more to say about the poems than they have to write about them for some reason. I'm interested in tracking where the shape of the conversation will go in class now. 

Reginald Dwayne Betts's 'Big Word' Love Poem & the Poetry Podcast
The Value of Skeptical Poets: Notes on Dwayne Betts 

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