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Published by: d-fbuser-93565745 on Aug 11, 2011
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This is a poem that many of us can identify with. You may find it useful
and fun to have students imagine each of the metaphoric activities Collins


says they ought to do to experience a poem. The discussion itself will take
them a long way toward experiencing poetry.

Prompts for Discussion and Writing: What Is Poetry?

1. Discuss each of the three things the speaker in “Ars Poetica” says a poem
should be.

2. The speaker uses the poetic devices of simile and metaphor to make his
definition. To what extent do these devices communicate “what” poetry
“is” better than a prose definition?

3. The speaker in Ferlinghetti’s poem compares the poet to an acrobat. Is
this an appropriate comparison? Explain.

4. To what extent does the structure of Ferlinghetti’s poem convey
its meaning?

5. In what way is writing a poem a “life and death” struggle?

6. Make a list of the activities the speaker in Billy Collins’ poem suggests
are helpful to experience poetry. Discuss the appropriateness of each. For
example, in what way does feeling “the walls for a light switch” help a
reader experience a poem?

7. Compare this description of writing with that of Seamus Heaney in
“Digging” on page 287.


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