Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Poets and stuff

I learned from Magdalena Ball's blog the other day that April is National Poetry Month in the USA.  Following on from Maggie's lead, and even though I'm not American and that I live in Australia, I thought it might be timely to celebrate the work of three poets.

I too will dispense with well-established all-time favourites  - John Donne, John Keats and William Blake, in this instance - and celebrate three contemporaries instead.

Firstly, because he's had a significant influence on me, is e.e.cummings.  I scribbled about him here not so long ago, mentioning two of his volumes of poetry that I've been dipping into now for 30 years or more (*gasp*).  One of my favourite poems begins:
one winter afternoon
(at the magical hour
when is become if)
a bespangled clown
standing on eighth street
handed me a flower.

A more recent addition to my favourites is Billy Collins, whose Picnic, Lightning anthology is one I enjoy returning to time and time again.

Here's the opening stanzas of I Go Back to the House for a Book:
I turn around on the gravel
and go back to the house for a book,
something to read at the doctor's office,
and while I am inside, running the finger
of inquisition along a shelf,
another me that did not bother 
to go back to the house for a book
heads out on his own,
rolls down the driveway,
and swings left toward town,

I really feel that I should include one of the Mersey poets here because I grew up with their anthologies stuffing my pockets and I've always particularly liked Brian Patten's Prose Poem Towards a Definition of Itself.  However, given that it's National Poetry Month for the USA, I'll keep the American flavour and tip my (metaphorical) hat at Philip Schultz.

This excerpt from The Wandering Wingless (Two):
Dogs, by nature,
aren't spiteful. They
don't hold grudges.
We punish, elevate, and bully them,
as if they were us. But even
we aren't us. (Nobody is.)

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