The second interview I did was with a peer. This person has an advanced degree, is similar in age to me, and is a professional in their field. When I first asked this person to participate in this project, they were very reluctant. They said they did not really understand poetry it made them nervous, and they did not have much interest in poetry. I reassured them that these things were not a requirement for this project, and actually, I quite preferred this, since my first interview was with someone who was interested in poetry and in Language Arts in general. In the end, they reluctantly agreed to participate.
His initial response to the poem, was that it made him want to go outside, and that combined with the family references made him think of all of the fun times he’s had with his family in nature, it made him feel nostalgic. He also felt, though, that when he first read it, he did not get it at all. I offered to read it aloud to him, and he accepted. After I read it aloud, he said much more of the poem clicked and he was more able to visualize some of the components of the poem.
He really enjoyed the great visuals the poem provided, but felt like it took him nowhere, he felt very unsatisfied in the end. He thought perhaps that was because he just did not understand the poem. One of the images that really spoke to him was “she'd hang in the milky moonlight/ burning like a medallion.” He thought it was a beautiful image, that reminded him of how much he enjoys autumn.
When I asked him if there were any aspects of the poem, words or phrases, that were confusing to him, he replied, “Yeah, Aunt Leaf!” He spoke again to the fact that he really did not understand the poem. He said it did become a little clearer when I read it aloud, but still left him confused. He also found the tone to be somber and a bit dysthymic. This in a way speaks to some of the questions I had about the tone. I felt like the beginning was exciting and hopeful, but I felt as though there was a turn in mood. Perhaps this is what he was noticing. This is definitely something I want to revisit in this poem; it is one of my biggest questions. He also felt as though the speaker was experiencing and commenting on the end of fall, not the beginning. I found his feedback on this interesting.
Something he spoke of in regards to family really interested me. He was not sure exactly what role family played in the poem, but thought that perhaps there was a connection between the way she described her family as “solid as wood” and the leaf being named “aunt,” because if the tree was her family, then a leaf branching off the tree would be an aunt, genealogically speaking. He also thought that the reason she wanted to become “something quicker” was because she was perhaps so that she could grow up and move away. I thought that was very interesting, since I have thought that she has perhaps grown weary of her family- this was a nice insight that I had not considered.
In the end, this interviewee enjoyed the discussion we had, and felt much more comfortable with this poem, and with the idea of having a conversation about a poem. He helped me to look at things in a different way. We think differently, so it was nice to see this poem taken in a different direction.