Exploring a poem's sound through scansion is not "crap," as Marilyn Kallet has recently called it. It's simply another tool with which to examine that large or small "machine made of words" as William Carlos Williams described a poem. Maybe if more poets paid attention to rhythm and what a writer calls "the ghost of meter," we'd not have so many talky, prosy, flat poems boring audiences and making them want to walk out of the room. As my teacher and friend Fred Chappell commented about current MFA poetry students, "They don't know an iamb from their elbow." Anybody studying to be a poet should know her tradition and care about what an iamb, at least, is-- not to mention all the other meters. Then she can really have some good play-time with rhythm. Otherwise, she is impoverished; her tool box is not as helpful as it ought to be.
As for teachers rapping out meters on the board and thus destroying the student's interest in poetry, I doubt that happens anymore. There are other ways of killing the joy of reading and hearing poetry. Teachers ought not to be routinely blamed. I loved scansion myself--and diagramming sentences. I loved just about any way of approaching language and its mysteries and revelations. Frankly, I wish we had more study of rhythm in poetry, and I wish I had a blackboard in my house so I could diagram sentences whenever I felt the urge!
Causes Kathryn Byer Supports
Any environmental causes to keep our Southern mountains and our planet from devastation. Conservation Trust of North Carolina Nature Conservancy ADC,com...