For as long as I can remember, I've loved to read: short stories, fiction, nonfiction sometimes, even philosophy if nothing else were available. This term I've been given more reading assignments than I can ever remember having to deal with. This term has been extra special because we studied no less than three types of literature: short stories, poetry, and drama.
While I was in high school, a short story was a book with less than three hundred pages. This term I learned that even though a short story may be only a few pages long, there are chapters of interpretation, ambiguity, and symbolism to understand. In "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, I found a story teeming with so much symbolism that I had to read the story twice before I understood half of it. In "Araby" by James Joyce, I learned to look deeper than just the surface of the original wording to find new meanings to the story.
Poetry, on the other hand, has been like a curse to me. I felt as if I were out of my depth when forced to read it. I could read the words, but comprehension was beyond me. Then, just last week I discovered poetry is indeed a foreign language. "I've always picked up languages easily," I thought. I then knew that all I had to do was translate the dead language of poetry into terms I could understand, then, with a blinding flash, comprehension dawned. E.E. Cummings is really just a dirty old man. Carlos Williams is a political activist, and Dylan Thomas is incredibly grief stricken about the loss of some loved one. The emotions of the poems were almost too overwhelming to deal with.
Once I was told that as we evolve, so to does our language. I thought my teacher had been in the sun too long when she told me that. But when I started reading works by William Shakespear, I found just how right she was. The writings of Shakespear also have the added benefit of being like poetry. For me drama is tedious, boring, and too hard to keep track of. Given the choice of reading Shakespear or getting a new series of hepatitis shots, I would go for a double series any day.
Whenever I'm given a reading task, I treat it like a job, something to put up with until I'm done. I know differently now. I wonder how much I have missed thinking in such a way. From now on, I know that I will see it differently. Already with new eyes I see short stories and poems differently. Drama, however, will always be viewed as a painful task.