Add new comment

Krista Tippett’s interview with Elizabeth Alexander, “Words That Shimmer” is definitely an interview that is expiring and if there was thing I learned for Elizabeth Alexander, I would have to say listening was the most important. The poem I recently worked with, “To the Present Tense”, is a poem that you have to analyze closely. You also have to allow the speaker to convey his or her message. This requires the audience to not assume as well. If I had to take a guess at how Elizabeth Alexander would put this into two sentences, I would guess that she would say that you have to allow the poem to come to you instead of looking for things that aren’t there. Don’t be so quick to assume if your assumption is shown in the usage of diction, syntax, or line.
The first thing that I noticed was the fact that Elizabeth Alexander background pointed to everything but poetry. Her family is very “practical” in her words, so her decision to dive into poetry was one that was totally uninfluenced by family. Elizabeth Alexander talked about how her family didn’t mind her being a poet, as long as she remained practical. She stressed the importance of being able to live while approaching this profession. Another interesting thing that caught my ear was when Elizabeth Alexander told Krista Tippet in the interview that she enjoyed listening growing up, particularly her grandfather. His formal language usage was something that interested her because she would read language from books that he used. From this information it can be inferred that her grandfather played a role in her approach of poetry.
As the interview continued Elizabeth Alexander shifted gears to a new topic, the fakeness displayed by the “media world”. Her fascination with this topic grew once she realized her children were very attentive to the world around them. “They’re also drawn towards language that shimmers” was the single phrase that stuck with me after listening to this interview. She talked about how her children were extremely attentive of what others said to them and around them. She was alike them in this aspect because she always felt like words had importance, ranging back to her youth days with her grandfather. I happened to listen to this interview after working on my second essay in my poetry course. I found that reading the poem multiple times helped my understanding of the material. This helped me put a stop to my assumption making and also allowed me to focus on the relationship between the addressee and the speaker.
Throughout this course my understanding of poetry has been a rollercoaster ride. I struggled with the understanding of poems because I would always assume instead focusing on how the speaker set the tone in the poem. I found that once I interpreted the tone of a poem, the understanding of it would be more accurate. Diction, syntax, and line structure also helped with my understanding of the poem. Once I found who the speaker was addressing and the tone he displayed, interpretation of the lines were much easier. I wish that I encountered Elizabeth Alexander earlier in the year because she helped me view poetry in a new way, by telling me to listen to the words that shimmer.