I finished the book of poetry I’d assigned myself to read two years ago: a poem a day, I’d ordered. I tell those who take my novels-writing classes that reading poetry is a way to develop an ear, to improve style, and I set out to practice what I preach.
Did I read a poem every day? No, sir. But I read poems every day I could. Some days I wasn’t impressed. Some days I was awed. I highlighted any phrase which touched me, folded over pages on poems I thought were superb. What did I read? Good Poems for Hard Times, selected by Garrison Keillor. Why? Because a sad writer gave the book to me in Taos, and that felt important.
Phrases which touched me: this fervent care, this lust of tenderness…And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,/And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am…..an apple tree/That eased itself of its summer load….the moon to a comma, a sliver of white….uniforms of snow…..I’m one of your talking wounded….I don’t feel/like that face at all…..I shall be made thy music…..through the dark the sparkling that heavens the earth……………and many, many more.
What’s next? I’ve grabbed A College Book of Modern Verse, edited by Robinson and Rideout and shall begin working my way through that. But first, I’m going to leaf through Good Poems and note what I’ve underlined, savor it. I’m hoping that somewhere inside the poetry is feeding me, moulding me, the way good food feeds and moulds a growing child.
On another note entirely, read the NY Times today. As always, its depth of story and prose style soothes me. But the stories hurt: For every soldier of ours killed, 25 die at their own hands; The population explosion in Africa…..The world is too much with us; yet we are the world.
What to do?