I’ve been reading about poetry lately. It isn’t really the same thing as reading poetry. Yet, it has its own pleasures. There was a line in Writing the Life Poetic that reminded me of all the baggage words carry around. It’s that wonderful double edge sword that makes some words do the heavy lifting and other words just seem cliché. There is also the sublime way that words shift over time shedding old meanings and acquiring new ones that make prizing meaning from some poems more akin to solving puzzle boxes.
I’ve been told there was a time when poets where the rock stars of the day, but to day I would assume most people don’t read poetry. The kind collected in slim little books. I would assume most people think of poetry at that stuffy difficult to understand stuff that they were forced to read in school. They’d rather listen to there iPods, to the rock stars — the performers of poetry, and never connect the two concepts. One of the article I read recently, talks about a website selling poems for 99cents a piece and they compare it to musicians selling individual songs. They only made the mercantile connection. Even wordless songs could be compared to concert or nonsense poems where the form or lilt is more important then the meaning.
I had a high school teacher that made the leap. She made use bring in song lyrics for our poetry projects. We had to illustrate them and read them out loud to the class, no signing or music, just the words. Illustrating someone else’s poetry can be a great exercise in imagination.
I purchased two poetry collections yesterday. Songs of Love, Moon, and Wind: Poems from the Chinese translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Slamming Open the Door poems by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno. The first I chose because I like classical Chinese and Japanese poetry and had not seen this volume before, the latter I must confess was for the cover. I did glance through both collection to make sure most of the poems where no over a page. I like short poetry best. I look forward to enjoying these today.
To me poetry is a chance to play with words like one plays with a fresh box of crayons. Today I’ll look at the pictures on somebody else’s fridge and be stunned by their beauty or sniff and say, “I can do that.” Either way I’m hoping to inspire myself to spread out my words before me and see what emerges.