Friday, April 6, 2012

National Poetry Month

I have been remiss in acknowledging April as National Poetry Month. I may have only a handful of poetry books on my shelves, but that doesn't mean I scoff at the art.

I started a writer's group sometime back around 1993. We were called Noms des Plumes. We all wrote poetry. Some wrote better than others and we all listened intently and graciously to each other. For me, at a time I was trying to jump start a writing life, the actual process of writing and then reading that writing aloud was one of the greatest boons to my creative life. It helped me to develop confidence in my talent and myself. As a group we participated in city-wide poetry readings and continued meeting for about two years. We were small in number, well behaved, and sincere in our hearts.

Of course I still have the notebooks full of my poems. It was an emotional time for me and writing all that angst and reading it aloud, with a spot of humor, was better than therapy. Bleeding heart poetry, I call it.

My two favorite poets are Billy Collins (Poet Laureate 2001-2003) and Mary Oliver. I was fortunate to hear Collins speak and read at a local university. He was funny, astute, and charming. I have not met Oliver and I think I read recently that she is ill and has cancelled any public appearances. I snatched up three of her books at the Border's blow-out sale.

I have already used one of her poems (here), so I will leave you with Mr. Collins:

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Billy Collins

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