Help Wanted

I have always admired how Peg is so open to poetry; it seems to trip her, hide under rocks for her, shout.

I can’t seem to get poetry into my life in the way that she does but I would like to try. I don’t necessarily even think that I mean reading poetry, because I do that, it’s more a necessity for other people’s words. (Writing words is my necessity.)

How do I do that? I would like advice, please, suggestions, improvements, deportment, poems to read, maybe, I don’t know. Some help. I would like the input of poetry to be as vital to me as the output is. How do I do that?

5 thoughts on “Help Wanted

  1. I think once you get going, it’s hard to stop? If you don’t like one book, don’t be discouraged – rip into another! Find publishers whose work you consistently like. Find poets you like and read all their books. Find lists of books put up by people you like and read them all. The most important thing is not to let yourself be put off my one bad book, one lit mag, etc. Also, put reviews up on your blog every week – that will force you to not only read but read carefully (I know you already do some of this.) One of the good things in my MFA program was that you were forced to read like twenty five books every two months and write decent-sized critiques of them. When you do that you find things to like and dislike, ways other people’s poetry can help inspire your own, sharpen your own writing tools.
    Is that helpful? I hope so!

    1. Jeannine, I appreciate you commenting.

      I’m honestly not sure what to make of some of your response, though.

      If you don’t like one book, don’t be discouraged – rip into another!

      Well, and after the 5th? Or 10th?

      Part of what your comments have helped me understand is that I want poetry for comfort, sometimes. Yes, I also want to read it to educate myself and I, first and foremost, read it for music, but I also want to read it for comfort. I want to pull out a poem I love and ride its trajectory, knowing that I’ll go through a specific emotional roller-coaster.

      As for thinking critically about what I like in a poem, I do think I understand that already: I want music. If there is music, the poem can take me anywhere, be about anything, I won’t apply all my daily prejudices. I just don’t find that music very often.

      I guess I don’t have your energy to keep opening that next book or that next magazine. So much of what I read, what I try to inhibit critically, in order to follow your guidance, does not feed me. And as a reader (not a writer), why should I keep reading something that does not fill the ache I have when I pick up the book of poetry?

  2. I’m both flattered and bemused by this – and at sea on if/how to answer it, especially considering how lightweight and part-time I feel my involvement with poetry to be in comparison with the others of you who have books to your name, are WAY more diligent and analytic, etc. (which I say not in self-deprecation but as a matter of reflecting different priorities and circumstances).

    …and I’ve scribbled down a couple phrases that might grow into poem-responses to this (though probably dead useless in terms of actual suggestions/guidance), if I feed them enough fire and crumbs and drippings. Mayhap.

    I suppose one thing I do that may not be common is that I’m often half-distracted by whichever poem I’m currently sketching for someone else (or, for that matter, by the possibilities of what to blog about next), and that tends to amplify my awareness of things that might could contribute to it. And I’m as often in the middle of mentally drafting letters to friends, some who get as much of a kick as I do out of shops named after red wheelbarrows and who humor my furious talkings-back at Shakespeare and Dickinson (look of agony = truth? Horsefeathers).

    1. Thanks for commenting, Peg.

      I feel my involvement with poetry to be in comparison with the others of you who have books to your name, are WAY more diligent and analytic,

      That wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I was trying to say that, all this diligence (which I do not agree that you do not possess 🙂 aside, you seem to find poems you love much more frequently than I do. And I wanted a way into that. There are a lot of words that resonate with me, and you, but the amount of poetry that seems to move and shake things in your life seems so much greater than mine.

      I appreciate your comment about being more likely to be impacted by poetry because you are more constantly in a state of trying to shape/write something. That is something I can try, myself, or at least point to when I don’t succeed.

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