FFFFFalling with Poetry: The Centrifugal Classroom

  • Lynn Keller


I want to start by quoting the opening passage of a recent book by Edward Hirsch, author of six collections of poetry and recipient of numerous prestigious awards including The National Book Critics Circle Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. The book is titled How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, and its first chapter begins:

Read these poems to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read them while you’re alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone else sleeps next to you … Say them over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of the culture—the constant buzzing noise that surrounds us—has momentarily stopped. These poems have come from a great distance to find you.1


Innovative Work Interpretive Possibility Interpretive Debate Subsequent Citation Etymological Meaning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1999), 1. Subsequent citations appear parenthetically in the text. The sentence elided reads, “Read them when you’re wide awake in the early morning, fully alert.” I omitted it because it does not emphasize separation from society and work-a-day life to the extent the other sentences do, yet here, too, the experience of reading remains one of solitary attention to the text.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sylvia Plath, Ariel (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 49–51.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Elizabeth Bishop, Geography III (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976), 40–41.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Ron Silliman, Tjanting, “Introduction” by Barrett Watten (Berkeley: The Figures, 1981).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Joan Retallack, AFTERRIMAGES (Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1995), 36. Subsequent citations appear parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Ovid, Metamorphoses I, Books I—VIII, trans. Frank Justus Miller (1916; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Joan Retallack and Juliana Spahr 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn Keller

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations