Orange Coast College English instructor Raymond Obstfeld has launched a website dedicated to examining and offering personal reflections on some of his favorite poetry.
Creative writing instructor Obstfeld said he began the blog, called poemsthatmove.com, in October after being inspired by the books “Poems That Make Grown Men Cry” and “Poems That Make Grown Women Cry.” Obstfeld said he read both during several trips to England over recent years.
“I find this project a bit unique because it’s both academic and autobiographical at the same time,” Obstfeld said. “It’s as if I were writing my memoir, but through the analysis of various poetry.”
Each post includes a brief biography of the author, an explanation of the poem’s significance to Obstfeld and a detailed analysis of each stanza of the poem.
He said that creative writing students can take away helpful lessons about word choice and themes from the analyses, but anyone with an interest in poetry can discover insight through the selected works.
“The poems, I think, are fairly accessible, and they pack a wallop. They’re not just intellectual. I don’t like poems that are all just thought and no emotion,” Obstfeld said.
The most recent post, a study of Karl Shapiro’s “Auto Wreck” from 1942, addresses humanity’s impotence and search for logic in the face of sudden tragedy. Obstfeld said that the poem can also be applicable to the current coronavirus pandemic.
“If we look at the pandemic for a moment, people feel helpless, and they feel like things are spinning beyond their control. But you read a poem like this, and you see it’s not just the pandemic,” Obstfeld said. “Having some insight into the way the world works, and how this fits into a bigger scheme, I think that helps make you feel in control. It gives you strength.”
There are four posts on the blog but Obstfeld said a fifth post should be uploaded within the next couple of weeks.
“With each one, I feel like, as I become more comfortable, I go a little bit deeper [into my life],” Obstfeld said.