Jack Underwood’s Essay “On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects”

In his essay “On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects” in the May 2018 issue of Poetry, Jack Underwood discusses uncertainty and “the empathetic negotiation of meaning between poets and readers.” No wonder I so often feel uneasy yet somehow comforted before, after, and while writing…

16 thoughts on “Jack Underwood’s Essay “On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects”

  1. I think of the poem as a tool kit that the poet assembles and the reader uses to build meaning. Some tool kits are much more ready-to-hand than others, but it’s still just a tool kit. You’re never certain how good it will be until users test it out by completing their own meanings from their own inner worlds, about which you know nothing in advance.

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  2. Oh, Bob! I love this guy – since I first read his poems! But this essay – a poem in itself, I can’t thank you enough for posting it (my copy of this issue is in my new home but I am at the old one!), it’s so brilliant and true and touches me so deeply!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the pointer. Yup, poetry’s beauty like visual art is in the eyes/mind of the beholder. This beholder was appalled at Underwood’s childhood game (!) but he does make a case for neither poet nor reader getting hung up on a poem’s specific “meaning” at any one encounter.

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