My last Japanese Art class was on Thursday, and I turned in my last paper on Friday. Tonight, I have one final class, Reading Poetry. I took this class because I don’t know much about poetry and thought I should. I’m still not sure I know much about poetry, but maybe a little more. My intention is to read, and understand, Walt Whitman. I’m not there yet.
Auditing a class puts you in a kind of limbo. Some professors encourage you to fully participate, others can tell you to do nothing at all, or there is a middle ground. The poetry prof encouraged me to participate in class, but not to write papers. This was fine with me; the papers were a lot of work. I did not participate very much in class. I just felt the other students needed all the opportunities they could get and I shouldn’t take it away from them. This class was filled with relatively young kids, at most early twenties. The Japanese Art class was a special seminar with both graduate and undergrads, several Japanese and people who had lived in Japan. I think this is what made it such a great class.
Back to poetry: tonight we are each supposed to read a poem of our own choosing, and I am also expected to read. I was actually going to skip the class; I’m not sure I want to listen to everyone read; but after being asked to participate, I will do it. I have chosen a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, A Sunset of the City. It is a poem for an old woman. I want the children in my class to hear it, whether they understand or not. The poem expresses more sadness than I feel. Perhaps Brooks wrote it when she was older than I am, or wrote it for someone who was older.
Brooks was poet laureate of Illinois, getting the position after the death of Carl Sandberg, and I remember reading about her often when I lived in Chicago. This is the first time I have really looked at her poetry.