Study Guide

Eating Poetry Versions of Reality

By Mark Strand

Versions of Reality

Reality and point of view are pretty important in "Eating Poetry." Cramming poems into his mouth is a totally delightful experience for the speaker. (We'll take his word for it.) But for the librarian, all the speaker's fun is rather terrifying and incomprehensible. This poem shows us that a single conception of shared reality is a pretty difficult thing to pin down. One person's happy doggy time might be another person's waking nightmare.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. What does the speaker's "reality" look like? What's ironic about his so-called reality? Does it look particularly "real" to you? Why or why not?
  2. How does the speaker's tone contribute to this theme of versions of reality? If there had been more figurative language, rather than matter-of-factness, would his reality have sounded differently? Why do you think so?
  3. Does reality even matter in "Eating Poetry"? Why or why not?
  4. If the poem were told through the librarian's perspective, how might it have sounded?

Chew on This

Reality isn't all that "real" to us in "Eating Poetry," but to the speaker it's as real as can be. He's romping through his very own world.

When it comes to conveying personal experiences to others, reality can be a problematic thing— especially when you've got burning dogs climbing up staircases.

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