Like most people, I don’t read a lot of poetry.
(At least, not in the last 20 years or so. I did go through a very pretentious period on late high school where I would have a worn old hardcover tome by T.S. Eliot or Wordsworth or Cummings in my backpack, clearly marking me as Queen Geek of the all the Geeks, and proud of it.)
I think poetry is maybe the purest art form. Poets write because they really, really have to. They aren’t in it for the audience, because the audience for poetry in general is very very small, and for your niche is likely to be even smaller. They certainly aren’t in it for the money, or getting their work in the kind of magazines you see in airports, or winning awards that will make them internationally famous.
They’re in it for the art, I think. I admire that.
In the past several years, I haven’t had time to read as much as I’d like to, and I didn’t think I would want to give up what precious little reading time I had to poetry, which takes time to sit with, to ponder, to re-read and let it worm its way into your heart.
But I’ve read several very interesting books of poems lately, by some sort of fluke, and it turns out – I loved it. A beautiful poem is like a little nugget of gold. I can read it in a few minutes but it sits with me all day, giving me something to turn over and over in my mind whenever I have a free moment.
I’m going to be adding more poetry to my ever-growing stack of books on my bedside table, for sure.
Poetry might not be your jam. But if you’re interested in some offbeat, cool works that challenge your (maybe) ideas of how stuffy poetry is – consider these.
(Just noticed they are all women. Also interesting.)
Lee Ann Smith says
Lynn, I have been very delinquent in responding to this post but it hasn’t left my mind since you posted it.
“In it for the art”, with all the realities you mention about tiny audience and even tinier for each poet’s niche… yes, I agree. And still I love to write poetry, with the wistful hope that something I write might worm its way into someone’s heart!
I am also happy to say that I’ve read 2 out of 4 of your recommended poets! Julie Bruck and Mary Oliver are both on my shelf. And I will check out the other two and look forward to doing that!
To your list I would add Jacqueline Baldwin’s Threadbare Like Lace and A Northern Woman; and Deanna Young’s Reunion; and Katarina Vermette’s GG award-winning North End Love Songs. These I can lend you whenever you think that stack beside the bed needs replenishing!