One of my goals this year is to read more poetry. “Why?” you ask? To which I reply, “I don’t need to justify myself to you, so shut up.”
It’s the same reason I read anything: To learn. I have to say, though, I’ve felt guilty about it. This blog’s readership demands constant, insightful, pithy reviews of big, important books, and when I read poetry, I’m not reading something I’d generally post about here. So, while I enjoy poetry and am often startled by great poems, I don’t know that I have anything to say about it.
Then, I thought of a great solution:It’s my blog, I can do whatever the hell I want with it. I can post poems. Plus, it’s cinchy, I only have to write a couple introductory paragraphs, then type in a poem and Bob’s your uncle. I’ll even make it a regular feature, so look forward to a weekly poem.
Today, a work by Mary Oliver, from her 2014 collection “Blue Horses.” (I stumbled across this book at the library and even though it’s more than two years old, the spine cracked and the pages smelled as though I were the first person to check it out. I’m glad I did, there are many gems hidden within.)
I like Oliver—whose work I have read for years—because she’s accessible but challenging and sometimes quite funny. At 81, her work is infused with a joy for life that I find inspiring. I credit Oliver with re-inspiring my relationship with poetry. Several years ago I bought her tiny “A Poetry Handbook,” and found it to be mind-opening. It is perhaps the only primer you’ll ever need to feel as though you have an understanding of poetry and poets. Pick it up if you don’t have it.
Feel free to include your favorite poem or poet for me to explore in the comments below.
If I Wanted a Boat
I would want a boat, if I wanted a
boat, that bounded hard on the waves,
that didn’t know starboard from port
and wouldn’t learn, that welcomed
dolphins and headed straight for the
whales, that, when rocks were close,
would slide in for a touch or two,
that wouldn’t keep land in sight and
went fast, that leaped into the spray.
What kind of life is it always to plan
and do, to promise and finish, to wish
for the near and the safe? Yes, by the
heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want
a boat I couldn’t steer.