Ron Charles on Understanding Modern Poetry

I didn’t think I understood modern poetry. The less I tried to get it, the more I came to love it.

By Ron Charles

I was nervous. I had just been summoned to the Old Naval Hospital. I didn’t know exactly what I’d be told.

Alarming medical results?

No. Something more frightening: Poetry.

If that word strikes the same terror in your mind, stay with me.

Back in 2012, the folks who run the beautifully restored Old Naval Hospital, a community center in Southeast Washington, paired up with the Library of Congress to plan a new literary program. Mary Ann Brownlow, a consultant with the Hospital, and Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the library, envisioned a quarterly series of in-depth conversations with leading poets in front of a small audience.

They wanted me to serve as the moderator.

For a moment, I wished we were in a still-functioning hospital, because I felt certain I was about to suffer an impostor-syndrome-induced stroke. Read the full piece at The Washington Post.

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