"Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary." -Kahlil Gibran
Inspired by a poem Red Room member Phibby Venable posted in response to last week's My Work blog topic, we asked Red Roomers to blog about their favorite poems. More than eighty took the challenge. We weren't at all surprised by the breadth of poetry represented (or by the howls of outrage at our gall in asking for just one poem), and we were certainly delighted by the personal stories many told about what made that poem special.
Three bloggers' posts stood out this week:
Pat Montandon shared a wonderful tale about the first poem she memorized as a child at her mother's behest. That time with "Mama," and the lifelong love of poetry and the written word it started, are the subjects of her blog post, "My Favorite Poem."
Kelly Tweeddale struck us with the sentences with which she began and ended her post, "In The Hands of a Poet." For Kelly, "Poetry...has always been a 100-decibel alarm clock to the heart" and she says, "So, find your favorite poem, put yourself in a poet’s hands, and succumb." We agree with Red Room member Sue Glasco, who commented that Kelly's "prose writing in this essay was pure poetry."
J. Ruth Gendler's post uses lavish language to tell how her appreciation of poetry has deepened both by teaching it to schoolchildren and (in one poem's case) using it to mark important occasions in her life. Read "Poetry: Language of Radiance and Depth."
Here are the three books these bloggers will receive:
Beat legend Diane DiPrima's 1990 classic, Pieces of a Song (reissued by City Lights in 2001), records her search for spiritual fulfillment through various religious, political, romantic, and intellectual pursuits.
The Rain Taxi Review of Books described Evie Shockley's 2006 collection a half-red sea as a complicated cultural and emotional record is a moving and surprising book that is 'prickly with bloodless truths.'
And Alex Grant released his first full-length collection, Fear of Moving Water, in 2009. Smartish Pace said Grant (whose book was nominated for a Pushcart Prize) moves deftly between the serious, the sublime, and the silly, sometimes melding all three into something shining and whole.
Here are some other posts that we loved this week:
- Speaking of Kahlil Gibran, Anthony Maulucci gives a great description of why the poet's most famous book has meant so much to the '60s countercultural generation in "Kahlil Gibran and The Prophet."
- Poor Lizzie Skurnick dealt with the brutal world of negative blog commenters by taking solace in a poem by Rachel Weszeton. Read "Constant Comment."
- Kathryn Stripling Byer's lifelong love affair with Spanish-language poetry is the subject of her lovingly recounted post, "Giving Myself Over to Green."
- The brevity of haiku warranted a short-but-strong post about Ryokan by Renee L. Malotte-Cota. Read "Ryokan--My Favorite Poet."
- Farzana Versey gave us another of her wild stories, this time involving a memorable moment involving a drunk interlocutor and T.S. Eliot. Even sober, you'll enjoy "An Eliot Evening."
- We loved Jennifer Gibbons's "Do What You Are Going to Do, and I Will Tell About It," about how different poems mark the different phases of her life.
- Jill Anderson's appreciation of a poem by Assatta Shakur is highly political and highly personal. Read "An Affirmation."
You can read all the My Favorite Poem blog posts here. I hope you'll choose your favorite, and leave a comment letting the blogger know why you enjoyed it. Thanks as always for blogging!
-Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room