MEME ME UP: I got tagged for this meme by fellow poet Robert Peake, who happens to live in Ojai, California...home of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. He swears he's never seen them running in slow motion past his house, but he's probably sworn to secrecy by the OSI. Anway...

The first poem I remember reading was There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale in 1981 or 82. I was reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and he uses the poem in one of the final chapters to such amazing effect. In the chapter, a futuristic house is left empty after a nuclear war. The house is fully automated -- and even has robotic mice that come out at night and vacuum the floor...sort of like a Roomba -- and every night a computer comes on in the library and reads a poem. The parallels between Teasdale's words, the context in which Bradbury placed it in the novel and the fact that I had recently watched The Day After and was scared shitless the bombs would be falling any second, ingrained this poem into my memory.

I was forced to memorize numerous poems in school and did it happily. I remember having to memorize a poem by Tennyson and a couple of Shakepeare's sonnets and wanted to read them in a fake English accent long before Madonna ditched her Detroit brogue. In high school, I discovered Plath and Sexton (and wallowed in Dickinson for a bit) and could reel off Because I Could Not Stop For Death (although I was devastated to learn you could sing it to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas) or Her Kind.

I read poetry because I love the economy of words poets use to express moments of pleasure, pain, joy and despair. More than any other kind of literature, poetry can move me to tears and make me catch my breath at an eloquent turn of phrase.

A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is either Anne Sexton's With Mercy for the Greedy ( friend, my friend, I was born doing reference work in sin, and born confessing it...) or Stan Rice's Thunder and Rain (...and the rain is brain-colored and the thunder sounds like something remembering something...).

I write poetry, but I don't have a holier-than-thou attitude about it.

My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature because it has remained a constant in my life. I go through periods of not wanting to read fiction, then I tire of memoirs, but I'm always on the lookout for a great book of poetry.

I find poetry in lost toys, Members Only jackets, Pam Grier's afro, my parents' stormy marriage, my ex-lovers, London, Paris, Texas (and Paris, Texas) and really good sex.

The last time I heard poetry was earlier this evening listening to a reading by Gwendolyn Brooks online. We Real Cool still thrills me.

I think poetry is like a great orgasm. It's short, leaves you spent and on an emotional high. Less po'biz and more po'gasms!

I tag Harper, Tania and Lisa. Get on it, kids.


"Less po'biz and more po'gasms!"

Hear, hear.
Anonymous said…
Po'gasm? What are you smokin over there?

Robert said…

And yes, I am sworn to secrecy.
jenni said…
po'gasm!!! love it. has a ton of great recordings. you can basically listen all day. i do that sometimes.
Robert said…
I wish I had an all day to listen to poetry. Maybe I'll invent an eighth day and dedicate it to the muse. Flinsday - between Tuesday and Wednesday. Perfect.

Speaking of Ojai (we were - somewhere - back there) it has its own podcast radio show called Radio Ojai (know any other towns of 8,000 or fewer that do something like this?) and I'm interviewed in their latest episode. Whee...
Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing! I thought your thoughts on poetry were very interesting and inspiring. This post made me love poetry even more. "We Real Cool" is one of my favorites too and I use to try to imitate a British accent. Stopped some years ago when I figured out I couldn't really be British, but I think it is one of the coolest accents around.

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