In both classes, my explanation was something to this effect:
I think poetry is often a combination of natural talent and skillful writing. At the most basic level, poets are poets because they instinctively associate words in ways the rest of us don't; words naturally flow from them with sophistication and beauty. But I also believe that when a great poet encounters a glitch in his writing process, he knows how to draw from his skill and training; he knows how to use his head to compensate when the words from his heart are insufficient. It's the same with musicians, choreographers, painters. No matter the balance between an artist's talent and skill, it is important that we (the readers) know how to analyze his work intelligently and thoroughly. Especially if we ever hope to communicate our analysis with other readers, we must equip ourselves with a variety of analysis tools and common terminology.
From my own (obviously biased) opinion, I believe these ideas give great purpose to what teachers do in literature classes, even though year after year, new students contend "did the poet really mean to use all those euphemisms?" Still, today's discussions reminded me that I am blessed to have students who are willing to ask that question! I am blessed to work with thoughtful, passionate students who challenge me and who need to understand the intentions of our writers. And I am hopeful that one day they will learn to appreciate the "mind and heart" (Thanks, Whitworth!) behind this thing we call poetry.
So, to my artistic friends and family, I now want to understand your creative process. What inspires you? What brings the words/notes/colors to your fingertips? How do you balance your natural talent with your intellect?