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Bernstein.The%2BDifficult%2BPoem_2_

Bernstein.The%2BDifficult%2BPoem_2_ - The Difficult Poem...

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The  Difficult  Poem     Charles Bernstein   Harper's Magazine  June 2003 Volume 306, Issue 1837; ISSN: 0017-789X  All of us from time to time encounter a difficult poem. Sometimes it is the poem of a friend or a family member, and sometimes it is a poem we have written ourselves. The difficult poem has created distress for both poets and readers for many years. Experts who study difficult poems often trace the modem prevalence of this problem to the early years of the last century, when a great deal of social dislocation precipitated the outbreak of 1912, one of the best-known epidemics of difficult poetry. But while these experts have offered detailed historical discussions of difficult poems, and while there is a great deal of philosophical speculation and psychological theory about difficult poetry, there are few practical guides for handling difficult poetry. What I want to do in this essay is explore some ways to make your experience with the difficult poem more rewarding by exploring some strategies for coping with these poems. You may be asking yourself, how did I get interested in this topic? Let me be frank about my situation. I am the author of, and a frequent reader of, difficult poems. Because of this, I have the strong desire to help other readers and authors with hard-to-read poems. By sharing my
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experience of more than thirty years of working with difficult poems, I think I can save you both time and heartache. I may even be able to convince you that some of the most difficult poems you encounter can provide very enriching aesthetic experiences-if you understand how to approach them. But first we must address the question-Are you reading a difficult poem? How can you tell?
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