I was surprised by the places this meme took me and am so glad that it was this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea at Poetry Thursday. Because of this meme I realized that I have loved poetry for much longer than I realized...
The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was "Fog" by Carl Sandburg. In fourth grade, my grandparents took me to Sandburg’s home and bought me a copy of this poem. I read it over and over again in grade school. I love the image of fog coming in as cat’s feet. Such a simple yet incredible gorgeous image. He is still one of my favorite poets.
I was forced to memorize "Theme in English B" by Langston Hughes in school and was so nervous reciting it in front of my sophomore English class that my knees were shaking (and I was sitting). I actually wasn’t forced to memorize it, I chose to. We had to memorize one poem from our literature textbook…any poem…I chose my favorite even though it was the longest. I hadn’t thought about this poem in a long, long time and reading it today, I could hear the cadence of my own voice in my head. I adore this poem and I am so moved to have found it again today.
I read poetry because it reminds me that I am not alone.
I write poetry because I am in love with taking an image or experience or feeling and peeling back the layers until the core of it remains.
My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature in that what takes me an entire book to discover/learn/see I can find in a just a few lines in a poem.
I find poetry revealing, gorgeous, wide, full of truth, hushed, daunting, candid, laugh-out-loud funny, noisy, tear-inviting, breath-catching, blissful…I find poetry is life.
The last time I heard poetry was when I read Langston Hughes aloud today. The last time I heard someone else read poetry was last Friday evening when I heard David Whyte read poems from his new book. I will forever hear his voice when I turn to those poems. He had this incredible way of repeating certain phrases so that you could synthesize the poem as he read it. He would then read the entire poem again. I found myself nodding throughout the reading and began to notice others doing the same. The way he read, this repetition of phrases, and the rhythm of his voice made it clear that he wanted to inject all the meaning possible into us.
I think poetry is like a gift to the human experience.
(To read "Theme in English B," click here. I hope you do…it is a poem you should know.)
Poetry Thursday was a weekly poetry project that I created and then co-ran with another blogger back in 2006-2007. The site is no longer online.