One last thought about my Tuesday night reading: one of my friends was there, and as I finished reading a poem, she made that happy gasp that she makes when she's especially pleased with something. It was only later that I thought, I've heard her make that noise when we've been to a Shakespeare production and when she heard the lines of Keats during Bright Star. And she just made that same sound and did that same hand gesture over my poem. My poem!!
I know that those of you who are non-poets might not understand the thrill. But poets get so little in the way of rewards. Our books of poems won't be made into movies, and we aren't likely to get a multi-million dollar book contract. The general population tends to think that poets are moody and strange, unlike other writers. I'll hang on to the thrill of seeing my poem inspire the same happy gasp that Shakespeare and Keats get from my friend.
Today, during my day of long meetings (you know the kind--if they're merely boring, you feel like you've gotten off lucky), I'll remember that moment. I'll also daydream about being named Poet Laureate (I'd rather be a Supreme Court Justice, but they must endure much on-job boredom too, I imagine). I'll wish fervently that I could be a National Book Award winner, once I have a book with a spine.
I won't daydream about being on the Publisher's Weekly Top 10 or Top 100 list, since I'm female, and their recent lists didn't include one female. I know that many people are creating their own lists, and I thought I might do that too. I've bought a lot of volumes of poetry in the past year, after all. But when I looked at them, I was astonished at how few of them were published in the past year. I shouldn't be surprised. I'm always a year or two or three behind on my reading, my CD listening, movies . . . and don't even talk to me about clothes fashion.
So, here's what I've decided to do. Over the next few days, I'll post recommendations to add to your holiday shopping list. What do you get for the person who has everything? Poetry, of course.
I've noticed lots of good blog posts out there this week, so for your immediate reading pleasure, here are some links:
Sandy writes a post about those lists and closes with a wonderful Emily Dickinson poem--short enough to memorize. Maybe that's what I'll do during boring meetings: memorize poems. I used to think I would write sonnets, but I can't always do that unobtrusively.
Kelli writes a post about getting a speeding ticket and finding gratitude--and about being reminded to slow down and to stay in the current moment. I've been working towards a similar experience as I open bills for insuring my property and paying property taxes and figuring out how to afford a new roof--I'm trying to focus on staying grateful for the fact that I have a roof, when so many people have no home at all.
If you enjoy interviews with poets, Serena Agusto-Cox interviews Temple Cone both here and here. Temple Cone says that when he's asked what he does, he answers simply, "I'm a poet." He doesn't qualify by talking about his work as a professor. When people ask how he lives on that, he says, "Prize money." He lets them think they've just met a very important poet, and he says, "And who knows, maybe they’ll look me up." The whole interview is full of wonderful nuggets like that one.
Reb Livingston writes a post about a virtual walking poetry tour (neat idea!) and remembers a fascinating, funny encounter with an all night palm reader.
Mary writes a post about eating Halloween candy to keep from losing 5 pounds every 2 weeks.
Now, there's a fantasy for people like me. I've always had the opposite problem. I could easily gain 5 pounds every 2 weeks, if I wasn't careful.
So, it's off to work, where I'll sit through meetings and daydream about being the Poet Laureate who can eat as many sweets as she likes and never gain weight--all the while making readers gasp in happiness as they read my poems.
The Summer of Reading
2 months ago