Friday, July 22, 2011

A poem

I really hate analyzing
poetry, because sometimes it just
seems like
the poet is
utilizing random line


just to piss me off.

And then my English teacher
"What does
that colon mean? That
one, right there?"


And I say,
"I don't know,
maybe it's just a
Did you ever think
of that?"

But no,
teacher thinks the
colon must have some

If I were a famous

I would put
random colons


so that: high school
English classes
trying to figure out: what
all those colons


The End.

Okay so I had an obscenely fun time writing that just now, and it's probably clear to most of you that I'm not a poet. Not even a little bit. I know lots of writers have journals where they jot down poetry, especially as teenagers, but I always hated reading/writing poetry with a fiery passion. I'm a novel gal through and through.

Anyway, after thinking for several minutes about how I could possibly make this a useful post (unlike my post from yesterday), I've decided to talk a little bit about symbolism in books. English class at school always annoyed the hell out of me, because our teachers would have us analyze books down to the smallest of details. I also hated the fact that there were "right" and "wrong" answers. I mean seriously, how can you possibly know what Shakespeare meant when he wrote about Ariel in The Tempest? The guy's been dead for hundreds of years.

As a writer, I don't purposely try to insert symbolism into my stories. A book should be about the characters and the plot. When writers try to convey a message rather than simply write a good story, it can often feel heavy-handed and preachy to the audience. I think symbolism and themes need to grow naturally, stemming from the main character's personal growth, rather than forcefully through the writer's own personal beliefs. Literary analysis in general gets on my nerves, because I think there's something intangible and beautiful about a good book or poem. Stripping it down and trying to rationalize each detail takes away from the overall meaning.

This is just one opinion, of course, so I'd love to hear you guys' thoughts. What do you think of literary analysis, symbolism, and themes?


  1. I wrote an essay complaining about having to analyze poetry--on an English class quiz paper. The teacher apologized and basically said it was a necessary evil. (Truthfully, I just didn't know the answer and I had to write something.)

    Now, I'd love to watch someone analyze the symbolism and metaphors in my current opus. It's almost allegorical. I feel the same way you do about using stories to make a point, and never thought I'd use so much symbolism in a novel. But it felt right. It's not making a point. It's just painting a deeper picture. But I put it there for people to find!

    I've gained a completely different perspective on literary analysis (maybe it's not so bad) as well as the merits of books I don't like (they might be worth reading.) Almost makes me wish I could redo some of those English classes. Almost.

  2. ROFL Kate! That poem totally cracked me up. I actually like some symbolism, but I don't believe in having it just for it's own sake. If it's a natural extension of your story, then by all means, include it. But if you have to force it - then it most certainly does not belong.

  3. I love your poem! lol

    If it's any consolation, literary analysis get's much less right/wrong in college. Or at least at my college. I think analysis, when done well, is most helpful to the reader (or writer of the analysis) because it helps in bringing a personal insight to the piece. I find that it helps me explore my own assumptions and thoughts in reading a work, and to learn more about the ways in which I read, and the connections that make sense to me, and could perhaps make sense to others.

  4. Awesome poem! I've read it several times now. So fun and a great use of form to enhance meaning. (Ha ha, how's that for irony--analyzing the deeper meaning of the form of your poem?)

    I also thought you'd enjoy hearing what author John Green had to say on this subject. He is the kind of author who intentionally uses symbolism in his stories. (If this link doesn't jump you to 2:45 in the video just jump there. The first part is just him answering random questions.)