Thursdays are becoming tough for me! I’ll have to work on my time management 🙂
So today, another 2 selections, both still centered around Ars Poetica. (How I love that I learned that phrase, and how I love how many poems I have found with this theme!)
First, former U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003), Billy Collins. I have a CD of his, The Best Cigarette, that I loaded on my iPod. Much of his work is highly accessible, but there is a sameness to me that can be fatiguing. But he’s good. No question. I found this poem here.
Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins
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.
– From The Apple that Astonished Paris
And next, a poem that came up in my inbox (I subscribed to the Academy of American Poets poem-a-day email), and it fits perfectly into this theme. It’s also published here. I know absolutely nothing about this poet, but maybe I’ll do a little digging and see what I can find. Until then…
How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.
You can now read poetry.
– from We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders