For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read: short stories,
fiction, nonfiction sometimes, even philosophy if nothing else were
available. This term I’ve been given more reading assignments than I
can ever remember having to deal with. This term has been extra special
because we studied no less than three types of literature: short
stories, poetry, and drama.
While I was in high school, a short story was a book with less than
three hundred pages. This term I learned that even though a short story
may be only a few pages long, there are chapters of interpretation,
ambiguity, and symbolism to understand. In “The Lottery” by Shirley
Jackson, I found a story teeming with so much symbolism that I had to
read the story twice before I understood half of it. In “Araby” by
James Joyce, I learned to look deeper than just the surface of the
original wording to find new meanings to the story.
Poetry, on the other hand, has been like a curse to me. I felt as if I
were out of my depth when forced to read it. I could read the words,
but comprehension was beyond me. Then, just last week I discovered
poetry is indeed a foreign language. “I’ve always picked up languages
easily,” I thought. I then knew that all I had to do was translate the
dead language of poetry into terms I could understand, then, with a
blinding flash, comprehension dawned. E.E. Cummings is really just a
dirty old man. Carlos Williams is a political activist, and Dylan
Thomas is incredibly grief stricken about the loss of some loved one.
The emotions of the poems were almost too overwhelming to deal with.
Once I was told that as we evolve, so to does our language. I thought
my teacher had been in the sun too long when she told me that. But when
I started reading works by William Shakespear, I found just how right
she was. The writings of Shakespear also have the added benefit of
being like poetry. For me drama is tedious, boring, and too hard to
keep track of. Given the choice of reading Shakespear or getting a new
series of hepatitis shots, I would go for a double series any day.
Whenever I’m given a reading task, I treat it like a job, something to
put up with until I’m done. I know differently now. I wonder how much
I have missed thinking in such a way. From now on, I know that I will
see it differently. Already with new eyes I see short stories and poems
differently. Drama, however, will always be viewed as a painful task.