The Power of Bewilderment

by Brian on May 22, 2011

NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook recently had an interview with New York Times poetry critic David Orr.

Orr had some excellent observations about reading and enjoying poetry. And he delivered a great insight into why many people struggle with poetry:

The difficulty in learning about poetry for many people isn’t really so much the bewilderment itself, after all, [people] are bewildered by lots of things. It’s that they don’t really expect to be bewildered and when they are bewildered they feel as if they’ve done something wrong. But poetry is an incredibly complicated and, in some cases, a very difficult art form, so of course you should be confused by it. And if you are comfortable with the confusion then it is actually easier to move forward.

I like Orr’s quote because it isn’t just applicable to poetry, but to learning in general. Orr understands that in order to learn and grow, it is necessary to be comfortable with one’s own ignorance.

You can download the entire David Orr interview at the On Point website.

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