Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Poetry Meme

I jump on the bandwagon. I do poetry meme.

Via Dorothy W.

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was.... it’s a Chinese poem. I think all Chinese children with a vague working knowledge of poetry knows it. It’s by the Tang poet Li Bai, and the vulgarizes/satirized English translation goes, “Bedside Moon Bright Bright…”

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and........ Shakespeare – we had to memorise lines from Antony and Cleopatra and The Merchant of Venice. Oh, Miss Anne Sutherland, my tutor for “A” Levels made us memorise John Donne. You know what? I have no regrets or resentment for having to do it. It was good exercise for appreciating poetry actually. I will do it again in a heartbeat.

3. I read/don't read poetry because.... I read poetry because I am lucky enough to encounter poems and poets that touch me deeply. It’s not just because I'm an English Literature major. I know some friends who did Literature that do not read poetry -- because they never found a poem that truly engaged them. Sad, I think. I always believe poetry is like falling in love – an game of kismet and pure blind chance.

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is ....... it’ll be something by Mary Oliver – but I’m at a loss to choose ONE single favourite poem. My first Mary Oliver poem is The Journey, and it is special because of the circumstance when I first read it. I was looking for a way out of my old life, and The Journey was like an arrow to the chest. But there is also In Blackwater Woods, which I love because I know here lies the message to remember, to carve onto my heart: “To live in this world/you must be able/to do three things:/to love what is mortal;/to hold it/against your bones knowing/your own life depends on it;/and, when the time comes to let it go,/to let it go.”

5. I write/don't write poetry, but..............the best poetry I read charge simple words with great emotional power. And I suck at that in my writing.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature..... My response to poetry is more emotional, more spiritual than novels. Novels allow me a kind of rational distance. I can appreciate a novel without liking it, but not so for poetry. I read a greater variety of books, but not so for poetry.

7. I find poetry..... deceptively difficult. Too many people think it’s just short lines on a page. And so they think they can write poetry, and trick other people (with prize money) into thinking they have talent.

8. The last time I heard poetry.... was in school, actually. Not every good poet reads well. And some poets should not write at all. Okay, I’m being mean.

9. I think poetry is like.... Poetry is song, poetry is prayer.


Rebecca H. said...

I feel the same about poetry vs. prose -- I want something different from poetry; I'm more likely to be looking to learn something or to be moved, and I like poems with a spiritual bent.

jenclair said...

I heard a recording of Yeats (in his 70's) read "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" on NPR, and it was so strange. I've heard many recordings of poets reading their own poetry, some good, some bad, but this one was almost like a Celtic chant.

Anonymous said...

Someone once told me the poetry of Homer were meant to be performed, probably with accompanying beating drums.

Maybe Yeats was working on the same idea, of poetry as a song, as a chant.