This week I start two new classes with poetry, beginning with talk of "what we're not going to worry about": hidden meaning, analysis, what the writer intended to say, what the poem is supposed to mean--the list is obvious, no doubt. Make that three classes, because we've already begun the same conversation in my creative writing class, around that John Fowles quote I lay on them: "An answer is a form of death." So what kind of poems do you like to read or write, ones that answer or ones that don't?
I'd like to tread warily around a poem with my first-year classes. Get it in play, then leave it off to the side as we talk our way somewhere else. Come back to the poem when conversation lags.
Now that I think of it, I wonder if the convocation address I have to deliver in October could claim that the situation of the grads about to embark on the rest of their lives is analogous to that of a first-year student about to read a poem?
At least this much is sure: in either case, the meaning is as close as your own use of language.