Right off the bat, I should come clean with the fact that I love the slim volumes–there’s something so elegant about them. I read different poets for different reasons. I love Carl Phillips and Mary Oliver, to speak of two extremes. Rather than fiction or nonfiction, I read poetry
- to be reminded how few words it takes
- for the mood
- to be unsettled
- to start the day (not always)
- to start my writing day (not always)
- to be reminded to appreciate
Do you read poetry too?
Oh, I do, and for the same reasons, Joan Didion. 😉 What can I say?
Karen, I have to admit I’ve never read her poetry–what should I start with? I love her fiction and memoir.
Sorry, Cynthia. I was not clear in my comment. Am a bit muddled of late… 😉 What I meant to say is her fiction, indeed all of her writing, is poetic. I don’t know that she has written any poetry.
Karen, I reread your comment and understand it now. Also I’m happy to know I hadn’t missed a whole section of Didion’s writing. And I agree about her use of language. xo
I like reading poetry but I don’t read enough . Mary Oliver is a recent discovery for me…
I’ve been on a Mary Oliver binge the last few months and discovered some poems I never knew about. I’m going to post bits of them here one of these days.
When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high
my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among
the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.
This is a new one to me, Dave. Love “the black honey of summer” and “the thick paw of my life.”
Reading Bashō translated by Jane Hirshfield:
Even in Kyoto
Hearing the cuckoo’s cry
I long for Kyoto
oh my gosh, sigrun, I love this.
Jane Hirschfield’s Ink Dark Moon (Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu) is another fabulous volume she put together. 🙂
Making a list!
I love to read a few poems before I start my writing day- I’ve sort of gotten out of the habit and I’m glad to be reminded of this! I think I saw Jane Kenyon on your shelves- a favorite of mine.
Yes, Katharine, and my favorite Jane Kenyon is “Otherwise.”
I like to read poetry out loud. How it sounds can sometimes be as important to me as what it says.
I haven’t ever done that, Mary. I’ll try it while I’m here by myself.
I only read poetry when it’s placed in front of me. I was more likely to read it on occasion when I was younger. Almost never now : /
Well, Donna, I might just have to place some in front of you : )
For starters, Donna, see “August” by Mary Oliver above (thanks to Dave).
I love the beauty of the language and the imagery, but I have trouble enjoying it when all the line breaks also break the flow. To me it always feels like a comma where it doesn’t belong : /
we will keep trying : )
Poetry is central for me. Poetry was central for me as a child. With each year of my life, poetry grows more necessary than fiction or non-fiction, though I need those as well. Poetry has the cathartic power to reveal my feelings to me, to explain my feelings to me, to open new possibilities to me, to provide a door that opens into an aha moment, an explication of what was previously a sensation in my body, heart, mind, soul. Such power contained in so few words, with the particular weight of extraordinary line breaks that take you over an edge and then pull you back, is one of the best small, daily miracles.
Katherine, this is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing your words here. And didn’t you share an Adam Zagajewski poem excerpt on Instagram? He wrote one of my favorite poems, “Don’t Allow the Lucid Moment to Dissolve.” Here’s the link if you don’t know it: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/don-t-allow-the-lucid-moment-to-dissolve/