Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Introduction to Poetry

I'm not back, exactly, but I decided I wanted to have a project for April. It's National Poetry Month, an event that you can't help but be aware of if you listen to NPR. I have to confess that I have a complicated relationship with poetry. I despise the prententious, breathy way that poems tend to get read at Open Mic nights in a certain sort of coffeehouse. It's enough to turn me against the whole art form, but then I read or listen to something from someone like Billy Collins and my faith in poets is restored.

I idly toyed with the idea of writing a poem every day for the month. But I don't do windows or poetry, so that was right out. Then I found Poets.Org and spent way too much time stumbling around and rediscovering some of my favourite poems.

Why write something sub-par when I can share a great poem with you instead? Best to leave this poetry stuff to the professionals after all.

I selected today's poem especially to kick-off my project.

Introduction to Poetry

By Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

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At 1 April 2009 at 07:17, Blogger BT said...

I found you via one of those black box thingies! I live in County Clare, not too far from Feakle, so was surprised to find another Irish blog! I'm a bit guilty of trying to over analyse poems. That's what comes from having studied The Metaphysical Poets at A level! Old habits and all that.

At 1 April 2009 at 11:00, Blogger Babaloo said...

I like this poem! Have to go and look up more Billy Collins now...

At 1 April 2009 at 13:09, Blogger laurie said...

that's a great one to start with, -ann.

it's funny you should post this. three women at work have invited me to start a poetry night group with them. dinner, wine, and each person brings a poem to read. we all admit to being dense as hell about poetry, being more literal minded than spiritual. we're journalists, after all, and we traffick in the truth.

first meeting is next week, but we've been passing poems around to get in the psirit, and one woman sent a billy collins poem. i'd never heard of him before.

i sent grace paley, with seamus heaney as backup.

it should be kind of fun. you should come. it's in edina, minneosta.

At 1 April 2009 at 13:20, Blogger Kaycie said...

I've never heard of Edina, Minnesota, but I can't think of anything I'd love better than sipping wine and reading poetry with you and Laurie. Wouldn't that be the best?

I love this poem, and though I'm not really that familiar with Billy Collins, I had read it recently, or at least a part of it. Knowing me, it was probably on "The Writers Almanac". Like you, I'm a big NPR fan.

At 1 April 2009 at 17:30, Blogger -Ann said...

BT - Welcome! So glad you stumbled upon my blog. I love the black box. :) I'm probably guilty of under-analysing, if anything.

Babaloo - He is definitely my favourite and he'll have a few poems here this month.

Laurie - That sounds lovely - I wish I were a little closer. (Although I would require whisky - no wine!) I like the idea of poetry group, since it's less committment than a book group but you're still talking about art and ideas and getting outside your normal sphere of thought.

Kaycie - I knew someone from Edina, believe it or not. And, as I told Babaloo, there's more Billy Collins where this came from. :)


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