It's Thursday, and we write something about our connection to poetry. I'm not publishing verse, but will share a few thoughts about my own experience with it.
I trace my re-entry into the poetry world back to Billy Collins and 9/11, of all things.
I heard an interview with Collins on that day (or the day after, memory is fuzzy). He was the Library of Congress Poet Laureate at the time, and someone asked him what poetry would be appropriate to read in the wake of the national trauma that we had just experienced. He replied that we couldn’t do much better than read some of the Psalms.
He seemed such a thoughtful, common-sense sort of person that day, very soft-spoken but heartfelt. He pointed to the Psalms, full of passages both spiritual and poetic. So I determined to read his material.
I liked it. He writes of everyday life, his lines are direct and friendly. Most important, he brings humor into his poetry – something rarely seen in the dense, sometimes obtuse poetry written by many major Western poets over the last three centuries.
He also speaks about the role of poetry. It shouldn’t be so difficult. We work too hard at analyzing it. Poems are wonderful forms of communication, a way to tell a story or reflect on images and ideas; but they don’t have to be over-wrought. My favorite is one of his shortest poems, Introduction to Poetry:
I try to take his lesson to heart in my own material; I don’t always succeed. But we all keep writing.