Tuesday, April 28, 2009

May's Featured Book: Good Poems

Since April is National Poetry Month, I've been spending more time over the past few weeks reading poetry than I normally do. This has been good for me for a lot of reasons. Here are two of them:

1. I've slowed down.

What is it about poetry that's just so dang relaxing? Now, I know that some of you who were forced to analyze poetry in college or high school will question just how relaxing poetry really is, but hear me out.

I felt so relaxed reading poetry this month because I was reading it of my own choice. I wasn't ever going to take a quiz on what I read, and I certainly wasn't ever going to write an essay and submit it for a grade. I wasn't even going to teach any of the poetry I was reading in my college classes. I was just reading poetry for fun.

This means I didn't have to feel any pressure while I read. If a poem was obscure and difficult, so what? I didn't have to get it. I didn't even have to finish it (and I'll admit, I read more than a few first halves of poems this month). Sometimes I read poems this month that didn't do anything for me other than show me one clever phrase or one interesting image. But so what? Isn't that enough?

Kicking back and reading poetry with a total disregard for whether I was "getting it right" proved liberating, and let me tell you, it's the most restful thing I've done in ages.

2. I've been paying more attention to words.

This month, I started reading billboards again. I started reading junk mail. I even started reading the printing at the tops and bottoms of receipts. I did this not because I cared any more about advertising or junk mail or receipts than I used to, but because I wanted to see if there were any interesting phrases or images in the words I'd been ignoring.

And it turns our, there are. I even found the perfect title for a short story I've been working on in a letter from a lawn care company. Reading poetry this month awakened me once again to a world of everyday words.

So, I'd like the WWADY featured book for May to be a book of poetry. I'd like you to have the same experiences I've had this month with words and poetry and peace.

For the month of May, then, I'd like to feature a book titled Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor. Admittedly, I'm kind of cheating on this one, as not all of the poets in the collection are still alive (e.g., William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and others), but I'd say that roughly 85% of the collection is made up of contemporary poetry.

And to those who shiver at the thought of reading poetry, let me say this: Good Poems is easy to read. The poems are meant to be accessible and decipherable (even the one from Shakespeare is pretty manageable). Good Poems is also organized by topic, and a few topics include "Music," "Lovers," "Day's Work," "Sons and Daughters," "Failure," and my personal favorite, "Complaint."

If it's been a while since you've really given poetry any attention, I'd ask that you get a book and read along with me. You'll be glad you did.
I'll make my first post on Good Poems on May 8th, so get your copy soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous - The One and Only said...

Two things: A) I love Garrison Keillor and b) It says on my sidebar there is a new post on here and I'm not seeing it.

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