In January, I began reading poetry incessantly. Since I tend to write 8-12 poems per week, I figured I should start reviewing the greats, contemporaries of the greats, and contemporary (modern?) poets.
Now that it’s National Poetry Month, I have redoubled my efforts. My twitter feed is chock-a-block with links to poetry I’ve never read before. My office is piled with books, handy at a moments notice. I’m reviewing T.S. Eliot, Benét, Don Marquis, and James Thurber (Thurber wasn’t a poet, but he always makes me laugh; my wife has a standing order that when I fall into my first coma, she is to read Thurber to me incessantly).
I found a fine hardbound book at the local used bookstore recently, The Bellman Book Of Verses, 1906-1919. Many fine poems here amid the ones that simply don’t speak to me. That is, not my cup of tea.
Well, isn’t that the way with poetry, art, music and literature? When a bit of art is revered, it’s not a bad idea to observe it on your own and attempt to suss out why it is revered. Of course, you can look at post analysis and comparative studies to find out what the fuss is all about. As I have tromped about gracelessly on this planet, I have discovered a wonderful escape hatch which I use often.
I Immerse myself in a style or genre for a little while. One that is just a bit outside of my own established interests. There’s no real work involved. Just read, or observe, or listen to that art, attempting to experience what others might. My brain begins to make connections, revealing overlaps. I’ll know when I think to myself, “Hey, that kinda reminds me of X”.
When I’m studying poetry, I know I already have an established feather bed to fall into if things get weird. I can read 3 consecutive modern poems that do not rev me up. No need to be disillusioned. I can always rinse my brain’s mouth out with Kipling. Or Browning. And in dire emergencies, break glass to access James Thurber.
Happy hunting fellow poets. ~Tom~