The Four Subjects of Poetry

NPR has a nice feature and interview with poet and critic Edward Hirsch whose Poet’s Choice collection was released on April 3. Hirsch talks about making poetry accessible, relevant and interesting — as well as challenging readers to find a truth they can identify with. He also references “the four subjects of poetry”, which divides all poems into four types. I personally think there has to be at least half a dozen, but in any case I look forward to diving into this collection of Hirsch’s columns and insight.

5 Responses

  1. full dozenI agree, Caryn,
    full dozen

    I agree, Caryn, that this list of four subjects doesn’t cover it. What about, for instance, “I want to kill myself now”, “I’m writing this poem drunk and I’m proud of it”, “I can’t think of anything to write about and I hate this poem”, etc. etc. …

  2. Only four?I thought there
    Only four?

    I thought there were eleven. Or Pablo Neruda did, rather. I have a new theory that there are actually 63 subjects, but I have to work out the details before discussing it, you understand.


  3. Upon further reflection, I
    Upon further reflection, I think there’s really only one that encompasses all… and that is:

    “I want to be a cowboy”

  4. Interesting. Does “getting
    Interesting. Does “getting shanked in prison” fall under that category?

  5. He also leaves out poetry for
    He also leaves out poetry for the sake of poetry. “Pretty words”. There’s as many reasons to write as can be imagined.

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