Christian Long

C.K. Williams: Reads Poetry of Youth and Age

In TED Talks on May 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Reflection by MEIGHAN A.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

C.K. Williams:  Reads Poetry of Youth and Age

C.K. William’s talk was different than most I have seen so far. He brought a ‘teen’ element into his talk, where most people either focus on adults or younger children. I have to appreciate his stepping out there and sharing this poetry or ‘youth and age’, however, I do not find the poetry except “This Happened” to be very moving or have anything inspiring about it.

“This Happened” brought an element of reflection, and delving into yourself to find who you are or if you are who you think you are. It was a thoroughly pleasant poem. Possibly I am biased in my appreciation of it, having often wanted to lean too far out a window, but I am far too attached to my life, the idea of ‘falling’ is quite fascinating though. It is possible that those who appreciate the majority of his poetry also can relate to the poetry they hear, and I simply can’t enjoy it as they apparently do because I cannot relate.

I believe from the point of view of a listener that there are two types of poetry. One type is to be shared with others and express some meaning or invite inspiration. The other is to write and enjoy among close friends or family, but mostly be written for self-expression and not to be shared with other because it has no meaning for listeners. Most of the poetry shared fell into this later category, if he had more poetry like “This Happened” it would have been a far greater talk.

The poem “Gas” was rather amusing because I have horses, so I can relate. If I didn’t have horses, however, I don’t think I would have thought twice about the poem. Even having horses wasn’t enough to allow me to appreciate the poem to its full extent. There seemed to be an element of soul, or passion missing from the poetry. Sometimes a more solemn dry mood works for a poet, but I do not think that was William’s aim.

I have to agree with J Michael’s comment “Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Mark Twain; but without the wit, wisdom or emotion. It was like sitting in a train listening to the self-obsessed ravings of a dull teenager. Not TED material.”

It is one thing to express poetry of youth and age, and another to recite poetry of a tedious nature. Unfortunately, I think William’s intentions were good, but his presentation imploded on itself. I do not think his intention was to cause people to disregard the poetry of youth as dull, monotonous, or soul-less; therefore I have come to the conclusion that this was not quite as successful as he would have liked.

  1. The Poem “Gas” is a different version than that which is published in “Poetry Speaks to Children”. Why is that?

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