Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Poetry and me

I've been trying to beef up my collection of poetry books, and my latest purchase arrived today:

Poems of New York

I like poetry and I'm a Manhattophile (is that a word? It should be) so this is right up my alley. So far, I'm happy with the purchase. There seems to be a wide variety of subjects, all of course having to do with New York City. It's an attractive little thing, not too large, hardbound and it even includes an attached cloth bookmark. If you're thinking of getting it, just get it.

I've always had a love-hate relationship with poetry. I've tried to understand what it's all about and learn, by myself, how to read it. Some poems I just cannot seem to grasp while others offer little language treasures that bring a smile to my face. Poetry is not easy to read, and I find a lot of value in the trying. Although poetry can be challenging, once you understand a poem and find that it means something to you, it's so worthwhile.

I like anthologies the best. I enjoy flipping to random poems, never knowing what I'll be reading on that page. I prefer shorter poems, but sometimes I'll tackle a longer piece. I enjoy the discovery of the new, but of course I also enjoy returning to old favorites.

There are a few rules and tips I follow with poetry:

  • Some poems will not speak to you. They may confuse you, and you may actually hate a few of them. That's perfectly O.K. Poetry is personal both for writer and reader, and what kind of reader enjoys reading everything?
  • Read every poem twice. The first time is for discovering what the poet has to express, and the way in which he or she expresses it. The second time is for pulling it all together into one piece after you've seen what the poem has to offer. I promise you, the second time will be easier.
  • There is no such thing as bad poetry, only poetry you don't like. The only exception to this is a poem which was written without passion, without interest. If the writing of the poem meant something to the poet, it has value.
  • Understandable language is preferable to awkward language. If I have to read a line three times to understand what it says, I'm not happy. I like poems that make sense.
  • Keep trying. The next poem you read may well become a favorite. Each poem you read will enrich you. You don't have to read some every day, but do take the time now and then to do so. You'll be glad you did.
I'm curious - how many of my readers are poetry readers? What do you think about my little rules?

No comments: