Reading

Poetry Avoided

For nearly half a century I avoided poetry.  

three books against wood background

I have fond memories of rhyming verses in Mrs. Miggawa’s third grade class.  I wrote a published poem senior year in high school.  (Although, to be honest, the small pamphlet printed as part of my Catholic all-girls high school curriculum had a minuscule readership.)  And, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island of the Mind is one of my favorite books.  But somewhere between early enjoyment and today, poetry assumed an impenetrable guise.  I blame this on too many instructors asking “What does it mean?” then being dissatisfied with my blue book reply when the real question was “What do I believe it means?” and, having missed his, her, their personal interpretation, my exam response messed with my college GPA.

My version of The 100-Day Project with Suleika Jaouad will be to read poetry.  It may be a single poem each morning but I want discover (or re-discover) a poet every day.  I intend to banish the judgmental “What does it mean?” question from my vocabulary and let the poem simply rest on the page.  The poet’s meaning may leap off that page or remain mysteriously obscure, either will be fine.  

5 thoughts on “Poetry Avoided

  1. I seem to like either Pam Ayres who I even saw live and she signed a book of her children’s poetry I had from when I was young. My favourite of hers is Heaps of Stuff. I mentioned that to her when she was signing the book and a few weeks later I heard her on Radio 4 saying she’d recently been reminded of a poem that seems even more applicable now than when she wrote it. I thought “ooh that’s me that reminded her”. My most favourite poem though is Matilda who told lies, and burned to death by Hilaire Billoc.

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  2. I was an English Lit major in my undergrad and we had to read and analyze poetry in a way that has made it really hard for me to forget but I am dipping my toe in. I have found Poetry Unbound to be a good source of poetry reading and loving the sound of a poem.

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