Review: The Blackout Poems of Christian Shockley

by John Ellispoetry

Nineteen years ago, I took an “Oral Interpretation of Poetry” class. The class is exactly how the name describes it. The professor, or whoever named the class, gets an “A” for truth in advertising. To get an “A” in the class was almost as easy; it was a well known secret that the student should go to the professor’s office, ask which poem he or she should perform for the next assignment, and then allow the professor to show him or her exactly how to perform the poem. Mimic the professor’s interpretation, and the student was assured an “A.” Attempt to interpret the poem under his or her own power, on any level, and the student would be lucky to get a “C.” If I hadn’t skipped the final exam, I would’ve gotten an “A” in the class. In other words, the only class that I’ve ever had that was specifically about poetry, I learned how to mimic my professor and pretty much nothing else. Which probably raises the question, why in the world am I reviewing a book of poetry?

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