Friday, July 18, 2008

Catching up on Poetry

I have two techniques for finding poets I want to read.

One is wandering through Powell's randomly picking things off of the shelf. That doesn't yield a very high rate or return, but it's fun.

The other is reading The Best American Poetry every year, finding the stuff that I like most, and buying those books. That's much more effective.

The last two editors, Billy Collins (2006) and Heather McHugh (2007) are poets I especially like. Collins because he is unpretentious and accessible (and in his introduction to Best American Poetry 2006, Collins specifies some of what he likes in poetry much better than I can summarize it here), McHugh because of her wicked wordplay. They're totally different types of poets that I like.

Mark Halliday continues to be a repeated favorite. Both McHugh and Collins pick him. Both of the selections made me laugh out loud.

McHugh picks Louise Gluck, who opens with this stanza:

I was trying to love matter.
I taped a sign over the mirror:
You cannot hate matter and love form.


That's one of the best openings I've read in a long, long time. I could have stopped the poem there.

Net result: I've got three or four more books of poetry I need to gather--and soon, before school starts and my brain becomes busy.

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