The perfect opportunity presented itself when I won poetry speaks who i am, a collection of 100 poems aimed at teens, edited by Elise Paschen from Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza. It includes everything from classics by Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, and John Keats, to fresh young contemporary voices that speak to experiences from baseball to bra shopping, from mowing the lawn to eating a bowl of oatmeal. Best of all, it includes a 47 track audio CD of poets reading their own work.
From Powells Books:
"The power of spoken poetry is at the heart of Poetry Speaks. Poetry is a vocal art, an art meant to be read aloud. Listening to a poem read aloud can be a transforming experience. Poetry Speaks not only introduces the finest work from some of the greatest poets who ever lived, it reintroduces the oral tradition of poetry, of poetry performed."
Why hadn't I thought to experience poetry in this way? What a joy it was to listen to authors read their work. Their tone and inflection added much, and gave me the courage to read the classics in the collection for myself.
A personal revelation followed:
I don't have to like, or understand, every single poem. Every poem will not speak to me.
From there, it was very a short stretch to:
Just because I do not like every poem, it does not mean that I don't like poetry.
This sounds so elementary. Why have I not looked at it this way before? Of course it would be ridiculous to say I don't like novels because of a few I didn't like or understand, yet that is exactly what I've been doing with poetry for decades!
So now, my question... Where do I go from here? Is there a particular poet or anthology you would recommend? Or perhaps one of those "how to" read/understand poetry books? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Finally, I'll leave you with one of the poems that "spoke" to me. It's about the kitchen table -
Perhaps the World Ends Hereby Joy HarjoThe world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, wemust eat to live.The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table.So it has been since creation, and it will go on.We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at thecorners. They scrape their knees under it.It is here that children are given instructions on what itmeans to be human. We make men at it, we make women.At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their armsaround our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together onceagain at the table.This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrellain the sun.Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is aplace to hide in the shadow of terror. A place tocelebrate the terrible victory.We have given birth on this table, and have preparedour parents for burial here.At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. Wepray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,while we are laughing and crying, eating of the lastsweet bite.