Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Poetry: Not Unlike Sex

During an epically long and multitask-worthy conference call this morning I logged into Gmail to work through the backlog of spam and feed alerts.

One of the few great remaining things about email is that it gives you an excuse to binge read your feeds - like watching an entire season of House of Cards in a weekend. Seven unread posts from theSkimm? Yes, please.

My guilty e-binge is poetry - I have subscribed to nearly every poetry blog, email and podcast I've ever come across. That's a lotta poems, delivered directly to me like morphine through a PICC line, every day. 

Many, many people think they just don't get poetry. Which is just silly. Everyone gets songs, everyone remembers nursery rhymes and jump rope rhymes, and jokes.  

Which is why you do, actually, get poetry.

"But how do I know if a poem is good?" is nearly everyone's next concern. My advice is to stop worrying about what is generally - and by generally I mean academically - considered to be "good."

Good poetry, like good food and good music and good sex, is relative. Did you enjoy it? Yes? Then it was good.

Back to binging: Binge reading poetry - not unlike experimentation in college or playing Pandora roulette - helps you figure out what you like. 

Actually, the experimental sex metaphor is not a bad one. Let's go with it. (That's what he said).
  • Open a poem, whether in a book or randomly selected from a site like poetryfoundation.org (Metaphorically find someone with whom you have a bit of chemestry)
  • Read the opening stanza (Kiss him/her)
  • Does it repel you? No? 
  • Read the next stanza (Press against him/her)
  • Are you bored? No? Read the next stanza (Let your hands wander)
  • Do you feel something? Yeah? Keep going (Keep going...)
  • Read the first stanza (Kiss)
  • Does it repel you? Yes? Move on to the next opportunity. Life is too short to be spent with bad poems and poor kissers
This is when you discover what moves you. In either context.

Try it. Click through the poems. You may give up on the first one and click away after reading one line, one stanza, two stanzas... Click on the next poem...and the next poem...keep clicking until you find yourself reading all the way through a poem. When you find the poem you want to read to the end I guarantee you will get it. 

Here is the poem that sent me down this path today. I've never heard of Craig Arnold but I kissed him and I liked it.

Poem of the Day: Bird-Understander

Of many reasons I love you here is one

the way you write me from the gate at the airport
so I can tell you everything will be alright

so you can tell me there is a bird
trapped in the terminal      all the people
ignoring it       because they do not know
what do with it       except to leave it alone
until it scares itself to death

it makes you terribly terribly sad

You wish you could take the bird outside
and set it free or       (failing that)
call a bird-understander
to come help the bird

All you can do is notice the bird
and feel for the bird       and write
to tell me how language feels
impossibly useless

but you are wrong

You are a bird-understander
better than I could ever be
who make so many noises
and call them song

These are your own words
your way of noticing
and saying plainly
of not turning away
from hurt

you have offered them
to me       I am only
giving them back

if only I could show you
how very useless
they are not

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, I found you via the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

    As part of NaBloPoMo I try to comment on as many participating blogs as I can, and I am also adding participating blogs to my feed reader. So I’m just dropping by to let you know I’ve added your blog to my feedreader, whenever you publish a post I will see it. :)

    I have created three bundles on Inoreader so that bloggers can easily visit other participating NaBloPoMo bloggers which you can find here -


    I also have a link up going at my place so my readers can find participating blogs which you are more than welcome to add your blog link to.

    Looking forward to seeing your posts. You may see me drop by again during November, but it might be December before I finish my first drop by to blogs if I don't get faster at leaving comments. :)

    Happy NaBloPoMo to you!