“The first critical essay I ever wrote was about the movie Dead Poets Society, which came out when I was fourteen. I wasn’t yet writing poetry myself, and I didn’t have any theories about why it should be read or taught. I just felt that the way the movie represented literature needed to be refuted, like a lie or libel.
I don’t remember exactly what I wrote about the movie for my high school’s opinion magazine, but today I would put it like this: While claiming to exalt poetry, Dead Poets Society actually mocks it by denigrating its key value — articulation. The whole purpose of language is to articulate experience, to turn private, hidden thoughts and feelings into public symbols that can be shared and reflected on. When an experience is especially complicated and elusive, language has to be wrenched out of its usual patterns to capture it, and the result is poetry.”