One person’s “Documentary Poetics” may overlap, to a large degree, with another person’s “Poetry of Witness.” Does it matter why? Does it matter how they differ?
This month we’re featuring Maryland’s Jehanne Dubrow, whose poem “Discussing Milosz,” appears in the Fall-Winter 2008-09 v3.n2 issue of Poetry Northwest, the sixth issue in the new series. “I have tried teaching Czeław Miłosz’s ‘Encounter’ several times,” says Dubrow, “but never with much luck. ‘Encounter’ is a small poem that travels great distances. Too often, I’ve ended up explaining Miłosz’s use of narrative, when I would have preferred that my students make their own discoveries about the text. Our favorite poems can be the hardest to teach; it’s painful to watch as students manhandle delicate lines, overlooking the most important words.