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In Krista Tippett’s interview with Elizabeth Alexander, I found several parts of the interview to be very intriguing and different from my own understanding of poetry. After listening to this interview for the first time, I had to listen several other times to capture these ideas of poetry that were so different from my own. Alexander talked about poetry’s purpose in today’s world and how it is becoming more relevant. One interesting point that she mentions in the interview is that poetry should not only be read in happy times but is often more relevant in hard times. This was brought up by Tippett when she mentioned that poetry seems to be something that is brought up more in day to day conversations even during the rough economic time. I never thought about poetry being read during time of distress and have always thought of it as something to be enjoyed in a certain mood. However, this does make sense because of poetry's ability to teach deep meanings to those who are going through the same struggle as is portrayed in the poem.
One of my favorite parts in the interview was when Alexander talks about how she likes to write questions in her poems even though she doesn't always know the answer. She says at one point that, “I ask questions relatively often in poems and I ask them because I don't know the answer.” This was very eye opening to me because I have always thought that poets only wrote things that they know. I have always dissected poems in order to find their meanings and answer these questions and never thought that there might not be one. Alexander mentions that because these questions do not have answers, the reader is forced to ask themselves the question. This way, the reader is not just reading information, he/she is having to ask themselves that same question that the poet was pondering.
This idea made me think about one of the most difficult poems we read this year and how much it confused. The poem “Astrophil and Stella Sonnet 71” by Sir Phillip Sidney, was one of the most confusing poems we read this year because I could not answer some of the questions surrounding the poem. After listening to this interview, I now understand that maybe I should have asked myself the questions instead of searching in the poem for the answer. Another poem this idea might have helped me understand this year was a poem that only had one line. It said, “in a thin voice.” This poem forces the reader to search for meaning because there is nothing else in the poem.
I found this interview to be very insightful and eye opening to the understanding of poetry. I think that Elizabeth Alexander is a very interesting person and I appreciate how she views poetry's influential role in today’s society. Alexander explained that poetry could be influential today during hard economic times because it can touch deeper emotions and help create a better understanding of the world and people around us.