Saturday, January 28, 2012

Serious Poetry/Fun Poetry

I've come to realize that poetry is yet another area in my life where I don't necessarily conform to the mold.  Much current poetry does nothing for me--and what is the point of poetry if not to move you in some way? Still, I think that the trick is to keep looking, keep reading, and sooner or later I'm bound to find more things I love.

One collection I read last year and never talked much about was Leavings by Wendell Berry.  In general I enjoyed it, although (in this collection at least) much of it tended to be a little too enviro-centric for me.  He does have a way with language, however, that made him easy to appreciate...especially when he talked about life and family.  I look forward to comparing his fiction to his poetry at some point.

Over the Edge

To tell a girl you loved her--my God!--
that was a leap off a cliff, requiring little
sense, sweet as it was. And I have loved 

many girls, women too, who by various fancies 
of my mind have seemed loveable. But only 
with you have I actually tried it: the long labor, 

the selfishness, the self-denial, the children 
and grandchildren, the garden rows planted 
and gathered, the births and deaths of many years. 

We boys, when we were young and romantic 
and ignorant, new to the mystery and the power, 
would wonder late into the night on the cliff’s edge: 

Was this love real? Was it true? And how 
would you know? Well, it was time would tell, 
if you were patient and could spare the time, 

a long time, a lot of trouble, a lot of joy. 
This one begins to look--would you say?--real? 

Short poems tend to be my thing, and I'm always up for a bit of humor, so Austin Kleon's Newspaper Blackout has been a fun poetic diversion for me.  This book not only takes you through the story of how he came to create poetry with a black marker, but gives you some pointers on creating your own and gives you some samples of other people's creations as well.  Some are simple, some are funny, all left me wanting to do some myself.

children play to keep sane

The Ninja's Chauffeur

Which would you rather

kill something ninja
with a family
yr destined to avenge

the ninja's
trusty chauffeur.

who is
quiet, hard-working,

known to date
a lot
more girls?

Although I enjoyed this collection, I ended up feeling that perhaps I was sold on the idea of these poems more than on the actual poems themselves.  There was a small handful that I loved, but most lacked the punch that a short poem needs.

This is the first collection of poetry I've finished reading this year, and the others I plan to read are also single-author-collections.  I'd like to put an anthology in the queue, though...any suggestions?

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