The poem is a powerful tool

ann e michael

This semester, I’m teaching an introduction to poetry survey course. This course helps me more than my students, probably, because while drafting the curriculum and teaching the classes, I find myself forced (in a good way) to confront my own aims and purposes regarding the art. In addition, I discuss poetry more frequently with colleagues and friends when I’m teaching a class like this one.

A question I’ve been asking is: what can a poem do for a person? In particular, what do great poems do for people? The phrase “transform us” has been suggested, but I think that word in itself is too unspecific. Transform us in what ways? How?

Here are some of the answers I’ve received, and I think they are all worth considering. I’m always looking for more feedback on this question, so feel free to add comments…

• Poems help us to imagine or understand…

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