As I spent this past week unscrambling the complexity of the poem assigned to our presentation group, I began to reflect on Bernstein.
In previous class discussion I positioned myself on the side of uncertainty regarding the importance of resistance and complexity of engaged poetry. However, tackling the final project has sparked reconsideration. Hours were spent unraveling the allusions and hidden meanings in mere stanzas. And perhaps all of that work was futile. Our chosen poet, Donnelly, capitalized on the theme of double entendres… so his words have multiple implications. But the sheer amount of history, politics, and religious references in his poem sent me on a scholarly journey. But what was truly engaging about his poetry was his disposition. Donnelly, like other poets are not confined to just historical facts. They have the ability and freedom to taint this information. Whether it be in fragments to depict injustice, or twisting a political leaders words into the mouth of another, or even taking on the lives of war victims, engagement poets work their magic through opinion.
I now understand more fully the importance of the barriers to easy reading in engagement poetry. These barriers essentially expand the surface area of the page; poets are able to fill the stanzas with much more depth and content than what can be seen at first glance.