Study Guide

Eating Poetry What's Up With the Title?

By Mark Strand

What's Up With the Title?

If Strand's title "Eating Poetry" doesn't set us up for some pretty weird stuff, we're not sure what would. The very idea of eating something that's not only inedible, but also the very thing we're reading, makes us consider that strange action on many different levels.

On the one hand, we might think of the more general idea of "eating" those experiences that we enjoy so much. We've got to have every last part of it. On the other, we might think more specifically about the experience of reading poetry. When we read (or eat) a poem, we internalize our understanding of what the poet is saying based on our own experiences and personalities. We each chew things over and swallow them in our own time (kind of like a herd of poetry-eating cows).

Strand is suggesting that anything goes when it comes to our personal experiences, whether we're talking about poetry or panini. Perhaps that's why the effects of eating poetry can be so unpredictable. We might suggest putting a warning on anything that causes flaming dogs to show up when you eat it. Our speaker reminds us, though, that it's all part of the joy of (eating) poetry.

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