Monday, May 11, 2009

Immersed in poetry...

I received four new poetry books for my birthday last week from my son and daughter-in-law. As I was browsing through them last night, I was reminded of this poem my friend Anne forwarded to me last month:

How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.


Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Sharon I absolutely love this. I'm going to print it out and put it on my wall to read often. Thank you for sharing. I often feel poetry is over my head ... I now feel there is hope.

A Brush with Color said...

That's great! I thought at first it was going to be Archibald Macleish's poem on poetry. Happy Belated Birthday, Sharon! and Mother's Day for that matter!

laura said...

Great poem--I'm going to have to print that out! I especially like the idea that poetry isn't full of hidden meanings; that it says what it means!
Happy Belated Birthday!!! I hope it was wonderful.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

This poem seems to settle the matter about poetry...great! I am reading Robert Hass one at a time...though not this book in your photo,
I like your bottle!

Sherry said...

Happy birthday, belatedly. This is a fun poem, one I wish I had when I was teaching.

June said...

Oh, I had missed looking at your blog--so many artists for one lifetime! I just wanted to tell you that Robert Hass was my poetry seminar teacher for three years--one of the great experiences of my life. He introduced me to so many things!!! Love you art as always, I've been lookingback through the months I missed. June