Monday, December 04, 2006

Poetry Meme

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was...

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Weirdly enough, the poem was in a Jilly Cooper book, and after reading it in there, I bought a book of collected poems by Frost.

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and...

I don’t think I had to actually memorise any poetry in school, but I do have a few memories of poetry classes –reading ‘Upon Westminster Bridge’ by Wordsworth (as a country girl I was even then disgusted by the notion that ‘Earth has not anything to show more fair’ than London city), analyzing what turned out to be a list of poetry titles because one teacher was curious about how we perceived poetry, and a class where we all had to pick a poem to share with the class, and I chose one by Emily Dickinson (predictably I cannot now find or recall the poem in question).

I also especially remember this sonnet by Keats, because it expressed some of my feelings when I was about 15 and having more thoughts about things than my head was able to contain.



3. I read/don't read poetry because....

it adds to my life. Every time I re-read a favourite poem after a long interlude, it feels like coming across a loved friend I haven’t seen for ages and stopping to catch up with them, and finding them as wonderful as I remembered.

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is ...

Puedo Escribir by Pablo Neruda. I know it is cliched to like Neruda, but ever since I discovered his poetry in Borders one day, I’ve been utterly in love with the man. I used to say I’d marry the man who bought me my own library (unless I earn enough to buy my own library first, of course), but I’d settle for the man who wrote me love poems like Pablo Neruda.

5. I write/don't write poetry, but...
I don’t write poetry because I don’t believe I could ever express my thoughts and feelings as well as the poets I most admire, and possibly do not want to suffer the disappointment of trying and failing. But, I wish I could.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature...


Poetry is more personal, I think. There are some poems that seem to be universally popular, but when it comes to it, reading collections of other people’s favoured poems is never as satisfying as reading your own favourites. Maybe it is the space for interpretation each poem leaves, or the way in which the poet moulds language to their purpose, or even just the memories associated with a certain poem in the mind of the reader. Also, the delicacy of poetry. Prose is often clumsier and almost always far more explicit. I am a dreamer, and I prefer poems that make my mind wander after reading them.

7. I find poetry...


more fulfilling than prose in some instances. Hard to explain; both have their places. Prose captures life and poetry captures the things we take through life with us – feelings, memories, reflections. The things that make us us.

8. The last time I heard poetry....

I was quite into journalism at university, and for one of my feature pieces I went to hear Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, give a reading of some of his works from Public Property. I bought the book as preparation for the interview I was to conduct with him after his reading, and was unimpressed with his poems. Until I heard him read some aloud – then they came to life, and I understood why poets like to read their work aloud. I particularly liked his poem Serenade but unfortunately I couldn't find it online.

9. I think poetry is like...


Art. It depicts beauty and truth. There are a lot of pretentious fools out there, but the real good quality stuff is instantly discernible. I also think it is like any other literature; some good, some not so good; some complex, some not so much. In my opinion the best poems are those that capture something everyone shares; a common experience (which is why Frost's poem is so popular), an epiphany everyone has had at some point, feelings everyone had experienced. The best loved poems, if you will, are those that frame the beauty in something common or ordinary in an exceptional way. Who doesn't have their own golden memory that always makes them smile, like Wordsworth and his daffodils?

7 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Nice answers! I like what you say about poetry being delicate and prose being a bit clumsy -- that makes sense to me.

Stefanie said...

I enjoyed reading your answers. I know what you meann when you say you find poetry more fulfilling than prose in a way. I feel the same.

Anonymous said...

Excellent answers! I enjoyed reading them.

BookGirl said...

So glad you posted your answers. I really liked the Keats sonnet you linked and am going to have to re-read that.

Michael J. Farrand said...

Thanks for your answers to some important questions about poetry. You might find some interesting love poems here."

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "You all have such good memories." I can't possibly bring this stuff up from the catacombs of my mind.

Anonymous said...

These are some lovely reflections on poetry. I especially like what you have to say about poetry being more personal because the reader depends on their own interpretation. I also think that reactions to poetry are often more visceral than reactions to other forms of prose.