Journey into Poetry: Daniel Conroy

Journey into Poetry Abstract Landscape

Since my earliest days, I’ve had an interest in writing. At age seven, I would write page after page about imaginary creatures—a result of my early exposure to Monster Manuals from Dungeons and Dragons. As a teen, I took to writing a journal. In just one year, I filled two hundred pages with poems of struggle: death, loneliness, love, or cliché nonsense. But I would also write my resolutions: accepting fate, loving solitude, and embracing humanity. Each scattered and jittery work became a brick in the pillar of my life.

Without a pen, I could hardly tell anyone who I was or what I believed in. There was no time in conversation to get my words in line for a proper parade into someone’s understanding. Wood pulp and ink gave my thoughts a grand uniform that allowed them to impress with greater ability than any tongue might. Soon written and spoken words became similar, and what I penned became what I verbalized. Without the gift of writing, I would still be a mute voice, looking on the world rather than living in it.

About Daniel Conroy, How to Read a Poem Scholarship Applicant

Daniel Conroy attends Colorado State University at Pueblo, pursuing a double major in Chemistry and Biology. Born in Texas, raised in Appalachia and Colorado (with intermittent sojourns to Europe), he maintains that literature was a comfort in confusion. He enjoys playing with expanded diction and meandering sentences in prose, but verse is his predominant form of expression. Daniel’s favored poets include Baudelaire, Shelley, and Poe. In novelists, he favors the fantasy of R.A. Salvatore and the realism of Thomas Hardy, particularly Jude the Obscure.

Photo by Gemma Stiles, Creative Commons, via Flickr.

How to Read a Poem: From the Classroom of Tom C. Hunley

Butterfly Bush How to Read a Poem

I just finished teaching How to Read a Poem in my ENG 493: American Poetry course. Here are a few comments from students:

“Poetry is out of my reach, or rather, it always was. After reading How to Read a Poem by Tania Runyan, I do not seem to have that excuse any more. . . . The last two chapters have led me from being skeptical of poetry, to content with the idea of it, which I didn’t assume was really possible. I am truly amazed.”

“I think Tania Runyan did a great job of tying together the ideas of her book and making them applicable for readers. As she explains how to ‘waterski’ across a poem . . . she eases the worries that a lot of beginning readers have — namely, that they are not qualified or prepared to properly take in poetry.”

“Runyan does an excellent job of tying up her book by concisely giving the reader permission to simply enjoy poetry. . . . These last two chapters kept reminding me of a line from the poem ‘Ars Poetica’ by Archibald MacLeish, one that sums up what Runyan is saying very well: ‘A poem should not mean/But be.'”

“The cheese that awaited me at the end, as Runyan would put it, was not to overstress reading a poem, but ride along with it through its enchanting journey.”

“Throughout this entire book I have been able to look at poetry in a completely different way. Falling off the ends of lines made my heart skip a beat the way it does when I’m on a rollercoaster, and looking at imagery and listening to the sounds made me realize how much work poetry is to write to really keep it consistent and coherent. It’s music on a page without the instruments, and that’s amazing.”

Photo by ladydragonflycc, Creative Commons, via Flickr.