Saturday, September 28, 2013

For poetry lovers... and those who don't care about poetry

"The sun strikes deep into the wells of the sky: depends on how you look at it -- for someone it is the hour to be shot at dawn, for me the infinite gift of red, of violet and blush-graying white above the bridge across the Loireo."
Tomaz Salamun

  Poetry is a universal dialogue that invites voices from every corner of the world. It embodies the desire to explore emotions and new realms.
 Poetry invites the mind to set itself free from its prison, but it is also a medium that can understand and console us. If I had to choose an anthology out of all the ones I read this year, I would pick Edward Hirsch's "Poet's Choice."
  Most of the poems he selected landed before my eyes just when I needed them - as if I had been destined to read them. Edward Hirsch brought together the voices of poets from all over the world without being biased by gender, country of origin, popularity, political ideas, religion or social class. Edward Hirsch was inspired and motivated by his passion for poetry.
   I was spellbound by Hirsch's essays on the poets and their works. I admire his wit,  sensitivity and open-minded approach. I savored each and every sentence he wrote and was compelled to read them more than once. This book is a masterpiece. It unleashes the vast universe of human experience.
   Not only did I fall in love with the poems he selected, but I also experienced a strong kinship to most of these poets.
 Now let me share with you Edward Hirsch's quotes on poetry:
  "I have tried to remember throughout that poetry is made by flesh-and-blood human beings. It is a bloody art. It lives on a human scale and thrives when it is passed from hand to hand."
   "Poetry is a means of exchange, a form of reciprocity, a magic to be shared, a gift. Poetry saves something precious in the world from vanishing."
   "Poetry challenges us to find meaning in the midst of suffering. Poetry answers this challenge. It puts us in touch with ourselves. It sends us messages from the interior and also connects us to others. It is intimate and secretive; it is generously collective."
    "Poems defend the importance of individual lives and rebel at the way individuals are dwarfed by mass culture."
    "I have carried poetry with me like a flashlight-- how many small books have I crammed into my pockets?-- and used it to illuminate other lives, other worlds. I discovered myself in discovering others, and I have lived with these poems until they have become part of the air that I breathe. I hope they will become part of the reader's world too."
 Some of the poets he included in this book are Jorge Luis Borges,  Sappho, Blaga Dimitrova, Charlotte Mew, W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Czeslaw Milosz,  Radmila Lazic, Primo Levi, Taha Muhammad Ali, Yehuda Amichai, Kadya Molodowsky, Avraham Ben Yitzhak, Saadi Youssef, Cesar Vallejo, Miguel Hernandez, Pablo Neruda, Julia de Burgos, Alfonsina Storni, Octavio Paz, Amy Lowell, Naomi Nye, Wallace Stevens, Jane Mayhall, Dorothea Tanning, Kathleen Raine, Mark Strand, William Carlos Williams, Jane Mayhall, William Matthews, Robert Bly and many others.
 I believe there is something urgent about poetry, something that rescues us from our own uncertainty...
Ars Poetica

Write each of your poems
as if it were your last.
In this century, saturated with strontium,
charged with terrorism,
flying with supersonic speed,
death comes with terrifying suddenness.
Send each of your words
like a last letter before execution,
a call carved on a prison wall.
You have no right to lie,
no right to play pretty little games.
You simply won't have time
to correct your mistakes.
Write each of your poems,
tersely, mercilessly,
with blood -- as if it were your last.

Blaga Dimitrova (Translated by Ludmilla G. Popova-Wightman)


  1. JULIA
    In place of always being late, I didn't dress for the party. I came in my gardening clothes, so I'm early. :)

    Another gracious post on the emotions of embracing poetry. I felt a chill when you said you "fell in love with poetry" in place of the customary "love poetry." That is like a "forever promise"..... so rare these days in the wake of "no-fault divorce." I only recognize a handful of the poets mentioned. I am always learning at your blog.

    1. Welcome back, Manzanita. Your gardening clothes look great. This is a very informal party.
      Yes, Manzanita, poetry transcends us. Poetry is a part of who I am.
      I am made of poetry.

  2. Poetry can be one hell of a thing to get your head around sometimes. I don't always understand it but I know it is a high level skill that not many people have. For many years I even thought that poetry had to rhyme all the time and be catchy but that's not the case at all. I've learned that there are so many different styles of poetry too.

    I do now follow blogs that do poetry because some of them are very interesting and it gives you an insight into the mind of the author and some poetry makes you really dig deep into the gut.

    1. Thanks, Rum-Punch Drunk. Yes, poems don't need to rhyme but they need to have some kind of rhythm...
      I'm glad to know you have an interest in it. Poems don't have to be difficult to understand. And people can have different interpretations about one poem.

  3. Hi Julia - I really need to take a poetry appreciation course ... I enjoy the lighter poems (popular ones, or songs) but have never got my head into the more serious ones - similarly literature, sad really!

    I would read some poems or songs to my mother and we'd chunter along together ... she enjoyed those times ... others I would just read interesting articles ... it had to be cheery or informative 'stuff'! ...

    I should take Rum Punch Drunk's advice and follow poetry blogs .. but ..... cheers and have a good week - your photo with the little one always makes me smile! Hilary

    1. If you love words you can enjoy them without taking a course.
      Have fun.
      It's good to know that poetry brings you such wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing them here...

  4. You know... I don't read poetry nearly enough.

  5. Your anthology sounds very much like one of my favorites, which I've had since I was a young girl. It's called "Other Men's Flowers", and it was compiled by A.P. Wavell in 1945. I fell in love with poetry because of that book.

    However, at its best, I think prose can strike some of the same chords as poetry. With a strong beautiful word choice, combined with a distinct rhythm, prose can be just as lyrical, and can resonate just as deeply.

    1. It can, of course. I did not intend to compare them. We cannot replace them. It would be like comparing music with literature or music with the visual arts. They all have their own unique roles. They all have the power to touch us deeply.
      They all belong to the artistic landscape of life...

  6. Hi Julia,

    A lot of poetry does not appeal to me. If I have to go what the heck did I just read, then it becomes lost on me. Yes, I understand that poetry can be subjective. Whenever I attempt to formulate some semblance of poetry I do like to keep it simple.

    Having said that, poetry can certainly be the music, the dance of words.

    A peaceful day to you, Julia.


    1. Hi Gary.
      Yes, I agree. There are poems that are meaningless to me. Poems are like books. They talk to you on a personal level, or they don't.

  7. LOL. The title cracked me up. I'm a super poetry fan, but I don't actually get to it that often. As a lyricist, I find so much inspiration in the way people bend words. So awesome.

    1. Thanks, Crystal.
      Yes, poems can be inspiring.

  8. I love reading poetry, the flow and ebb of words is magical to me. But I wouldn't have any idea how to pen one!


    1. I do too. Thanks, Nas.
      Just be brave and scribble something. Read poetry also. You may get surprised.

  9. Happy national (UK) poetry day.

    1. Thanks, Patsy.
      I just read the great links you shared on your blog today.
      Those are wonderful resources for poets.
      Thank you.

  10. Hi Julia .. someone recently recommended Roger Housden's Ten Poems to Change your Life .. where he evaluates each of the ten selected ...

    ... his notation on the back of the book says 'Housden offers a unique map for the Soul's journey and encourages us to begin. Accessible, elegant, luminous and wise, this book is Soul food' ...

    I bought it! Housden's reflections on the ten poets and their voices ..

    I've no idea - but I got hooked enough to buy .. 2nd hand and cheap - but still ... it's my introduction ...

    Cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary. I did write about one of Houden's books a few months ago.
      I will find it and will leave the link on your blog this weekend.
      I'm glad you are enjoying the beauty of poetry.

    2. Thanks Hilary. I did write about one of Houden's books a few months ago.
      I will find it and will leave the link on your blog this weekend.
      I'm glad you are enjoying the beauty of poetry.


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