Thursday, April 05, 2007

Two-day blackout...and some poetry.

Don't mind me. I've just been asleep for two days. I didn't realize how worn out I was until I fell asleep watching porn (kidding [or am I?])

At any rate, April is National Poetry Month, and while I don't spend much time talking about poetry on this blog, I do love it. Unlike some others I know, I am a reacreational poetry reader as I find that I often just don't get it the way I "get" novels, short stories, comics, etc. Poetry is my own personal bastard stepchild literary nemesis, but I still like to tackle it, take it for a ride, and see what I get out of it. And, more importantly, once the affair begins with a particular poem, I will love it loyally until the day I die.

In honor of the Billy Collins interview in the April issue of Estella, I'll start the April poetry lovefest with one of his poems. I don't remember the day or year I discovered Billy Collins--one of his two stints as Poet Laureate, I'm sure--but I do know he did a reading on The Today Show. The poem was "The Lanyard," and I found it disarmingly simple, funny, and charming. As I've read through his books I would still choose those three words to describe his work, but I certainly don't mean to imply that his poems are low on "literariness." The simple ones often hide a wealth of complexity.

One of my favorites, and fittingly so:

"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 water-ski
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.

If you're interested in doing something special for poetry month, go to and sign up to receive a poem a day in your e-mail inbox. Their offerings for April are all from new works, so it won't be a barrage of the classics you've read a dozen times.


  1. I'm reading through a couple of Ted Kooser's collections of poems for Poetry Month, but so far haven't found any I like. I plan to move on to a collection of Anne Sexton's and Anne Standford's. I'm just not all that into poetry, but I'm trying!

    Cute picture, by the way. I'm tired, too. I'd forgotten how tired I get working in a bookstore, on my feet for hours on end (not to mention getting up at 5:30 am - ugh).

  2. I'm so freaking tired too! Where is the weekend?! :)

    Love Billy Collins.

  3. i love your picture! Glad you got some rest and happy poetry month...

  4. I love that photo! That's about how I felt during dinner tonight. I think it's going to be an early night for me.

    I enjoy reading poetry, but I am not very good at pulling out the meaning some of the time. I just like the sound of it.

  5. Les, I haven't read much by Ted Kooser. Definitely check out Sexton. If you get the opportunity, try her book, Transformations. She does some amazing things with fairytales. Really turns them on their head.

    When did you start working at a book store again? I saw a quick mention of the job on your blog, but I was so behind while I was in NC I thought I might've missed a bigger post about the book store gig. :) And the 5:30 am thing sounds horrible. Eeek!

  6. Iliana, my thoughts exactly. This has gotta be the longest week EVER.

    Funky, thanks! Isn't it cute?

    Lit. Feline, that's how I felt in class tonight. LOL Not a pretty sight!

  7. Nope, you didn't miss a bigger post. That was it. The job really just fell in my lap quite unexpectedly. Today was the end of my first week and I love it there! Perfect hours. Great dress code (for the shelving/zone maintenance crew). Great music in the am. Plus, the awesome employee discount. I'm a happy camper. Nice to have something to put a smile on my face, ya know? I can live with the early morning hours. It's worth having the afternoons free.

    Congrats again on your new review position!

  8. The picture is irresitable. I've been lurking around your site off & on, but thanks to this cold Easter weekend in Big D I finally have time to post and work on my blog. I added you to my blog roll.

  9. That is the first poem I introduce when I teach poetry. There are so many great images, and a great message. The kids always like it, and when they feel that I am begining to suck the joy out of a poem, one of them will inveriably say "umm, Ms B. you're beating up the poem again."

  10. Les, it sounds like the perfect job! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

    Kristy, thanks for adding me! I've added yours as well. Love your blog!

    LOL, Lu. I know my high school students would've said the same thing (and my freshman comp students now, if I could teach 'em a lit thing or two).


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