This blog is about reminiscing. And it’s due to the meeting of my book club this morning where we discussed various poems, their overt meanings, their covert meanings, and their unintelligible meanings. It was food for thought.
For me, the bottom line is that poetry lends itself to individual interpretation. Unless you know the poet who wrote the lines and have interviewed him or her regarding the work, then the poem is more about you and what you see in it.
But this isn’t really what my blog is about either. It’s about reminiscing. The day’s events reminded me of other situations I’ve been in where people questioned what something meant.
It is 1967: I am a sixth grade teacher in Monroe, Michigan, trying to break the mold of the sixth grade experience. It is before the trend of teaching for test results. My class decides to put on a play, the first ever at this particular school. We work hard, and invite the other grades to attend a performance in the auditorium. Then the principal corners one of my students in the hallway and remarks that “Your play won’t be any good.”
The child returns to my class in disbelief. “Mrs. XXX says we’re not good.” The excitement in the classroom deflates.
“Wait,” I say. “When this is over, if Mrs. XXX says you’re good, I don’t expect you to believe her. I expect you to believe me. If I tell you it was good, then that’s what you must hear. And, if she says it’s not good, but I tell you it was wonderful, who are you to believe?”
I guess it boils down to poetry after all. We must believe in our own interpretations. If we did, we’d enjoy poetry and life more.