Tag Archives: Poetry

January — Read More Blog More! A Poetry Event

Since it is officially Tuesday, January 31st somewhere, I’m going to go ahead and publish this post now. I accidentally scheduled two posts to go up on the 31st, so I apologize in advance if you had any difficulty finding your way here! For this first month of the Read More/Blog More Poetry Event, I wanted to share with you why poetry is so important to me.

I found a love of poetry the way most high schoolers do: by writing it. Yes, my high school poems were angsty. I’m the first to admit that. They were often about who didn’t ask me to Junior Prom and family drama and all sorts of things that I’d probably be embarrassed to share with you now. Each year that I wrote poetry, from age 13 on, I also read more poetry. I read more poetry by other teenagers who were writing it, I read more classic poetry, I read more contemporary poetry. I was obsessed with it, and I still am, though perhaps not as fervently as I was in high school.

In a lot of ways, it’s difficult to explain what about poetry makes me so obsessed. There is, of course, the use of the English language in unexpected and clever ways. That is certainly part of it. There are the poems that describe something in a way you’ve never thought of before. I do enjoy that. Then there are the poems that tell a story and I love those as well. None of that, though, really describes what it is about poetry that I love so much.

It’s hard to get into a discussion of poetry without falling into the trap of comparing it to other forms of literature. Poetry is not like a short story and it is not like a novel. It is the concentration of story, language, mood, theme into a small package. Let’s forget about epic poems right now and just think of poetry being everything that a novel or short story is in only a few lines. There are whole stories behind poems, but the poet only lets us glimpse this tiny peek. How much of the whole story we are able to glean from those sparse words is totally up to us and what the poet will let us see.

More than anything, poetry has always been a kind of therapy for me. Reading it, sharing it, writing it has meant a lot to me over the years, through moments of great happiness and sorrow. Reading poetry can often be like recognizing yourself in a character in novel, but instead between the lines of a poem. It’s a way to feel like you are part of something.

Poetry can be beautiful, it can be bad, it can be life-changing. If anything I hope this project will bring people who are already avid readers of poetry closer to the poems they read and I hope it will bring those who are trying to read more poetry the same kind of life-changing connection that reading an amazing book can.

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Thank you for reading and, hopefully, participating in today’s Read More/Blog More Poetry Event! Please link to your post using the Mr. Linky below.


Reminder: First post for Read More/Post More Poetry event is this Tuesday!

This is your friendly reminder that the Read More/Blog More Poetry Event for January is just around the corner! Please post your poetry posts during the day on Tuesday, January 31st,  and check back here for a Mr. Linky where you can register your post.

Not sure what to write about? Here are some suggestions:

– Your favorite poem
– Your favorite poet
– Do you read poetry often? Why or why not?
– Why did you start reading poetry?
– Do you ever write poetry?
– Is there a poet you’ve always wanted to read but never have?
– What do you hope to accomplish through a year of writing about poetry?
– Do you think you’ll read more poetry this year?

As long as your post is about poetry, it is good to go. I can’t wait to read your posts! If you haven’t signed up for this monthly event yet, please see the original post here.

 


Read More/Blog More Poetry: A Monthly Event!

When Kelly and Eva were interested in reading poetry, they asked if I had any suggestions. Jason and I both compiled a list of our favorites and when Kelly posted about it on her blog. Quite a few people asked if it was a challenge. Kelly and I started thinking… maybe it should be!

Now that the New Year has come and gone and you’ve started on all your challenges and readalongs, Kelly and I would like to jump in and add just one more. Instead of a readalong or a reading challenge, though, this is a blog-along with one goal: blog about poetry once a month.

If you regularly read poetry, if you’re just starting to explore the form, if you want a reason to read more, but most of all, if you want a place to talk, gripe, or wax poetic about poetry, this is your blog-along. If you want a place where you can ask questions about poetry, share your favorite poem, discuss how poetry makes you feel, this is just your kind of event.

Most of all, this is a laid-back way to get the book blogging community posting about poetry. This isn’t necessarily a challenge to read more poetry, though we hope you will! (Check out Serena at Saavy, Verse & Wit’s awesome poetry challenge!) There is only one rule: post about poetry once a month, on the last Tuesday of the month. Then Kelly and I will write a wrap-up post the following Friday to keep the discussion going.

Details:

Poetry: Read More/Blog More – A Monthly Event!

1) Post about poetry on your blog on the following dates:

January 31st
February 28th
March 27th
April 23rd
May 29th
June 26th
July 31st
August 28th
September 25th
October 30th
November 27th
December 18th

2) Sign up with Mr. Linky! (Please link to a post specifically about this event if possible!) Kelly and I will be hosting the monthly Mr. Linky on alternating months, starting with my blog in January.


To Join the Lost by Seth Steinzor

When Trish at TLC Book Tours contacted me about a modern Inferno, I practically squealed with excitement. I mean, it just sounds so cool. Right? So when I got To Join the Lost  in the mail, I was beyond excited to read it, so I opened it up immediately. Then I proceeded to read exactly one page and put it down. I kept staring at the date looming on the calendar; I knew I was going to have to pick up To Join the Lost, but the excitement was gone. Turns out, I don’t think To Join the Lost is particularly cool or innovative. I do think it took a lot of hard work and I do admire it, but I didn’t enjoy it.

When I read Dante’s Inferno, it had a huge impact on me. Apart from the horrendous memorization quizzes we were assigned, where we had to read two or three cantos and then just fill in the missing words, Inferno made a lasting impression on me with its scenes of absolute terror. Maybe it was the translation, but the text didn’t seem dated, it seemed fresh and interesting. The idea of a modern day Inferno with modern day characters seems like such a good idea, and I still think there’s hope for it, but surprisingly, the problem with To Join the Lost is that it doesn’t stray enough from the source material.

Let’s start off with what’s good about To Join the Lost. There is some good writing in here. I marked several passages that I really enjoyed. They’re funny and the references that I actually got were great. I don’t fault Steinzor for making references that I won’t understand; that in and of itself is part of Dante’s Inferno, but it didn’t necessarily make for great reading. I wish Steinzor had included the annotations he decided to leave out, as he explains in the Afterword. Like most translations of Inferno, Steinzor’s verse is blank verse, but I wish it would have been a little more even. There are times when he uses very “poetic” language and times when he uses very plain language. It didn’t always work, especially when characters were speaking directly. Their tone and style seemed to change from one speech to the next; I would have preferred consistency.

In the end, though, my biggest gripe with To Join the Lost is that it’s not modern enough. Can you really fault a book for not being revolutionary enough? Is it To Join the Lost‘s fault that it’s not exciting enough? Steinzor mentions in his Afterword that he really wanted to modernize Inferno, that he wanted it to be more than just swapping out Dante’s politicians for modern ones, but that’s what I felt like when I was reading it. Maybe it’s just been so long since I read Inferno that my memories of it are very condensed. Yes, Steinzor came up with new hellish nightmares, but they were still in the same vein. I don’t know what I wanted, but it was something more. That isn’t to belittle what Steinzor does with To Join the Lost; it’s great and I’m sure it took a lot of effort, talent and obsession.

So what kind of Inferno would I want? I don’t know. An Inferno that really looks at our modern culture and sees what’s wrong with it. Maybe the metaphor just doesn’t make as much sense anymore. To Join the Lost is an adequate modernization of Inferno, but it just wasn’t the modernization of Inferno that I wanted, and that’s not really Steinzor’s fault at all.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book to review. You can read more about this tour and previous and future tour dates here


Poetry Wednesday – Louise Glück (2)

All Hallows
by Louise Glück

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one
And the soul creeps out of the tree.
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I know I’ve featured Louise Glück on Poetry Wednesday before, but when I came up with the idea to do a series of creepy poems for October, this one was easily my favorite. It’s chilling, frightening and all the things that a good Halloween poem should be, but it doesn’t seem to actually be about something frightening. Like the last poem we discussed by Glück, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what she is referring to, but that goes well with the transformative nature of autumn. There is no difference between the sight of a field barren from harvest and barren from pestilence. In the same way a tree becomes bare and different, the simple imagery of a woman leaning out her window becomes sinister. And that last line! I’m not exactly sure what it’s referring to, though it could be as simple as the leaves falling from the tree, but the way it is written certainly gave me chills!

Poetry Wednesday – Stanley Kunitz

End of Summer
by Stanley Kunitz

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.
Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.
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“The song of my marrow-bones” is beautiful.

Poetry Wednesday – Rafael Campo

What the Body Told
by Rafael Campo

Not long ago, I studied medicine.
It was terrible, what the body told.
I’d look inside another person’s mouth,
And see the desolation of the world.
I’d see his genitals and think of sin.
Because my body speaks the stranger’s language,
I’ve never understood those nods and stares.
My parents held me in their arms, and still
I think I’ve disappointed them; they care
And stare, they nod, they make their pilgrimage
To somewhere distant in my heart, they cry.
I look inside their other-person’s mouths
And see the wet interior of souls.
It’s warm and red in there—like love, with teeth.
I’ve studied medicine until I cried
All night. Through certain books, a truth unfolds.
Anatomy and physiology,
The tiny sensing organs of the tongue—
Each nameless cell contributing its needs.
It was fabulous, what the body told.
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I was originally trying to find “back to school” poems, but they were all cheesy and I couldn’t find one I loved, so I decided to just share this delightful poem about studying medicine. I love the transition and the truth behind this poem. What our bodies tell us is at once beautiful and terrible.

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