Tuesday, May 02, 2006

 

I'm reading a lot of poetry...

...now that National Poetry Month has officially ended. Coincidence? Irony? No, it's just what I feel like reading. And listening to - I bought Mary Oliver's new (and only) cd over the weekend, At Blackwater Pond (Beacon Press 2006), and my lord is it beautiful. I'd never heard her voice before, and the way she pronounces the "t" at the end of the word "light" really gets me. Precise and strong yet careful and humble at the same time. A few of my favorite poems are included in the collection: "The Swan" and "The Summer Day" and the title poem. In the short opening essay, Oliver writes:

"When I step onto a stage to read poems, the anticipation and even the hope of the audience is palpable. The people sitting quietly in the chairs - they have not come to rest, but to be awakened. They have come for some worthwhile news."

That's what good poetry, her poetry, is, worthwhile news. The goods. She is like Robert Frost and Wendell Berry and Thoreau rolled into one, yet is still entirely herself. Listening to the cd has led me back to the poetry shelf at home, where I have a Mary Oliver section. She sits next to Pablo Neruda, Kathleen Raine, Jimmy Schuyler, Carl Sandburg, Whitman, Keats. I've also been re-reading Raymond Carver's book Where Water Comes Together with Other Water (Vintage 1986). I get something newsworthy from him every time I read him, too, something that makes my skin prickle. This is from the poem "Elk Camp" (p.88, about how to shoot an elk, among many other things):

"'Look at it this way,' my friend said.
'How far would you run with a piece
of lead in your heart?' That depends,
my friend, that depends...."

I turn to poetry for a direct spiritual infusion, when prose is just too much of a muchness. And I'm glad there is a national poetry month, although I read it all year.

Comments:
while blogging alone I came across your site, and I am glad that I did.
 
I didn't know there was a month for poetry. Thank you for this info. as I was searching sites.
I was really trying to see if I could find mine. mind_of_patches.blogspot.com
haven't found it yet though.
 
Thanks for your comments, guys - David, we are all blogging alone, aren't we (an existential comment indeed), and patches, thanks for stopping by during your search!
 
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