It’s not you. Really. You’re great, if sometimes hard to read.
OK, poetry and I were never very serious. But I want to try, try again.
Last year, a great friend (and great poet) turned me on to Marie Howe (the Stevie Nicks of poetry, am I right?) through several of Howe’s poems from her book What the Living Do and this amazing interview from On Being. I listened to that interview with Howe (the former Poet Laureate of New York) over and over, thinking, if I can “get” the poet, I can “get” the poems. She’s a woman, a mother; she was raised Catholic. Check, check, and check. I’m still working through her Magdalene, from which the poem “Magdalene–The Seven Devils” may be my fave. Do I get every single reference? Probably not? Do I still feel like a fiction writer in poet’s clothing? Sorta.
I don’t expect you to be easy, poetry. Really, I’m trying to meet you halfway here.
I recently came across the work of Ohio Poet Laureate Dave Lucas, who grew up in Northeastern Ohio, like this girl. Check. And he had something interesting to say about writing about place:
For a lot of writers, there’s a realization: I can write about where I’m from, about what I know.
He says more in this interview here about “de-mystifying” poetry and about liking food and beer. Check and check.
I mean, we’re on the same wavelength now, poetry and me.
I’m looking forward to hearing Lucas read at the Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival. Here’s Lucas reading his poems “Midwestern Cities” and “River on Fire” from his 2012 book Weather. I’m also hoping I can get up the gumption to see if he’ll answer a few questions for the ol’ blog here!
If I imagine you in your underwear, poetry, maybe I won’t feel so unworthy.
Humor can be an entry to literature, even poetry. Right?
I saw the poet Billy Collins read several years ago. My twin boys were infants and I remember feeling so free–and literary–leaving my brand new, screaming offspring with my sleep-deprived husband to hear poetry at a downtown theater by myself. Collins is a huge deal, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, the “most popular poet in America.” Is he read by “serious” poets; I don’t know. He’s read by me. The Rain in Portugal. Come on, that’s brilliant.
Is Collins funny and wise? He was that day, as much as I needed those things, sitting alone in that theater, contemplating the senior citizens around me who’d raised their kids and made it to older age with their sanity intact, it seemed.
The poet smiled and rubbed his bald head and read poems about his cat. I like cats. Check.
Maybe I’m the one who’s easy, poetry. Let’s try again!
First poem you loved? Last poem you read? And…go!
Like this post? Give a girl a “share.” Thanks! ~ Rebecca
*image my own