At the end of last year, I made myself a resolution to read a poem a day. As I said in the original post, I’m not a poet. I’m not sure I want to be a poet, either. But I have great respect for poets and words. In an effort to learn more about both, and hopefully better my own craft, I challenged myself to read just one poem a day (I originally called it a resolution, but why weigh it down with such a heavy word. Let’s call it a challenge 🙂 ).
My goal is to not just read a poem, or skim through the lines, but to spend time with a poem. I want to think about it and wonder at the language and structure. Let it run through my head throughout the day. I also want to expose myself to different styles. I want to read masters and those beginning with their craft. If you’re a poet and want to share your work, or you’d like to suggest a poet who’s moved you in some particular way, please leave a comment and post a link, I’d love to check it out.
The first week is over and here are my reading selections:
January 1st – A Gleam of Sunshine, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time’s flowing tide,
Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side.
A tender sadness runs through the poem. Honestly, I could have picked any line because each one moved me. I chose these lines though because they seemed fitting for the first day of the year when the past and present are changing hands.
January 2nd – Tiger Butter, by Charlotte Cuevas
Kids runnin’ round,
kids on the ground,
popcorn beneath the stars.
I like the memories these lines awaken. I never went to the circus as a kid, but I kept picturing the county fair and buckets of popcorn. Merry-go-round music ran through my head when I read this poem.
January 3rd – Tomorrow, by Dennis O’Driscoll
Sunbeams sprawling on the lawn will set
dew sparkling like a cut-glass tumbler of champagne.
A bit depressing, but love the imagery.
January 4th – Departure, by Lillian Kwok
Here is the hot country, remember it.
. . .
Here are the legends, here is how you repeat them.
What strikes me most is the strength in this poem; how it commands the reader. I admit I cringed a little when I read about the blood like Jell-O. But if you’re looking for something with strong images and strong memories, give this one a read.
January 5th – Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes
Don’t you fall now–
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
I LOVE this poem. I had never read Hughes before, but I’m definitely going to read more of him. The man has such a natural voice, especially in this poem. And the sentiment! Worth a read–or ten.
January 6th – A Love Song From the North, by Sarojini Naidu
I see the soft wings of the clouds on the river,
And jewelled with raindrops the mango-leaves quiver,
And tender boughs flower on the plain . . .
Crazy about the imagery. Stuck with me all day long. It might have helped that I’m allergic to mangoes so I pay extra attention to them whenever I see them, apparently even when I see them in a poem.
January 7th –Velvet Beulah, by Heath Muchena
butteryfly wings fan her
as she sun bathes
under the shade
of a mulberry with molasses scabs
I like the contrast in the lines–soft and fragile beneath the shelter of a scarred tree.
My favorite? So hard to choose a favorite! I can admit I’ve gone back several times to re-read Tiger Butter and Mother to Son.
Am I looking at words in a new way, yet? I’m not sure. I can’t say that I see a dramatic difference. That’s expected, right? I mean it’s only the first week. I remain, however, anxious to see where this challenge takes me :). I know I’m going to be different at the end of the year, marked in some way from these poems.