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Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Poetry

Twenty-Six Days of Creative Inspiration

I love poetry. I was lucky to have a mother that read poetry to my brothers and I all through our childhood.

I am drawn to the intensity of poetry. The challenge of puzzling out the meaning in obtuse verse, and finding an expression that matches a flame in my own soul are the foundations of my relationship with poetry. Above all else, I adore poems that tell stories.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Two of my favorite story poems are "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver" by Millay, and "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes.

Alfred Noyes

Do you feel the angst and intensity just dripping out of their portraits?

There are two books that weave poetry so effectively into the stories that they have sent me scurrying to the poems and poets they feature. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger introduced me to Rainer Maria Rilke, and Matched by Allie Condie reminded me of the power of Dylan Thomas and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Both stories show how poetry can sing the song behind the soul of your story.

Do you have a favorite poet or poem?

Rainer Maria Rilke

I suspect Rilke looks unhappy because his middle name is Maria.

I leave you with a treat from Rilke. It's from Uncollected Poems Rainer Maria Rilke selected and translated by Edward Snow.

Overflowing heavens of squandered stars
flame brilliantly above your troubles. Instead
of into your pillows, weep up toward them.
There, at the already weeping, at the ending visage,
slowly thinning out, ravishing
worldspace begins. Who will interrupt,
once you force your way there,
the current? No one. You may panic,
and fight that overwhelming course of stars
that streams toward you. Breathe.
Breathe the darkness of the earth and again
look up! Again. Lightly and facelessly
depths lean toward you from above. The serene
countenance dissolved in night makes room for yours.
Paris, April 1913

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  1. How cool that your mom read poetry to you as a kid. I too LOVE to read and write poetry. This past year or so I have been getting really into reading poetic prose and have loved reading Ellen Hopkins and Patty McCormick in particular.

    Adrienne Rich and Robert Frost are two of my favorite poets!

  2. Yes, I suppose no poet should look cheerful in his/her picture!

    I love Anne Carson. Autobiography of Red, Plainwater. Amazing.

    Also discovered a couple interesting modern Irish poets in a small bookshop in Dublin.

  3. I am a huge fan of poetry. I like it all from intense to silly. I don't have a favorite- because it all depends on my mood. I also enjoy writing poetry- it is a great way for me to release my emotions. Fabulous post!


  4. Far and away my favorite is Dylan Thomas's Fern Hill.

  5. I love poetry, but I don't have favorite poet. Thank you for the Rilke treat (and for the laugh about why he might look a tad grumpy in his photo).

  6. I agree the photos are compelling. I'm a poetry fan as well, both reader and writer. My favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Billy Collins, -- yes Alfred Noyes The Highwayman... I read that as a child and it's stuck with me my whole life.

    Here is my favorite by Langston Huges: "I, Too, Sing America":

    I am the darker brother.
    They send me to eat in the kitchen
    When company comes,
    But I laugh,
    And eat well,
    And grow strong.

    I'll be at the table
    When company comes.
    Nobody'll dare
    Say to me,
    "Eat in the kitchen,"

    They'll see how beautiful I am
    And be ashamed--

    I, too, am America.

    1. Langston Hughes has such heart and expression of joy in his work. I use his poems in class to teach the kids how to express themselves when reading aloud.

  7. Nice post!

    Ted Kooser is my favorite poet.

    Dana, via the A to Z Challenge

  8. I'm taking a poetry class now because I want to learn more about it. I like Langston Hughes.

  9. I like Margaret Atwood - I always start teaching my students with her stuff. It's modern, hard edged, free verse and oh so layered! I don't expect my MG students to 'get' her stuff, I just love exposing them to her voice and images.

    I also use The Highwayman every year - and Casey at the Bat! :)

  10. Such a happy-making post! You've made me start thinking of all the poets and poetry I have know and loved, which is wonderful, but which also makes it a bazillion times more difficult to name a favourite. (Reading the earlier comments didn't help either: ooh, Margaret Atwood! Dylan Thomas! Emily Dickinson!)

    One of my hands-down favourites, though, has to be Gerard Manley Hopkins. There is such joy, exultation and freshness in his language and imagery.

    I love any post that makes me think about Hopkins! Thank you!

  11. Those people sure look like they know how to party. :D

    Alas, I don't have any favorite poets. :(

  12. Snort laughed with the Maria middle name line...OMG. I feel dense sometimes, because I don't always understand the nuances of poetry. But I love rhyming picture books, so maybe I have the brain level of a pre-schooler???

  13. Poets ooze tragic drama in a classy way. I love Oscar Wilde, he began as a poet before he became a playwright.
    Follow & A to Z

  14. I love very clear poetry like Emily Dickinson or Shel Silverstein :)

  15. This was almost my P word.

    Thanks for sharing these poets and poems.

    My favorite poets are Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.