Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just the Beginning - Poetry Project: July 2012

Over at Regular Rumination and The Written World, Lu and Kelly have launched a project I am really excited about.  Mostly because the post that introduced me to it housed one of my favorite poets and poems of all time - Pablo Neruda's Sonnet XVII from 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair.  After I discovered this slim volume of exquisite poetry on relationships, I was obsessed.  I read a lot of Pablo Neruda over the years, collected his books, and wrote about him and his poetry extensively for classes I took in college.  Now, sadly, his books, along with many of my other favorite poets, languish on my bookshelves.  Lu and Kelly's "Poetry Project" is an easy, no-frills way for me to get back into poetry reading and share my love with all of you!  If you're interested in joining the guidelines can be found here. 

For July – A few questions
This month, in addition to linking to your other posts about poetry, we have a few questions! Think of it as a way to get to know the other poetry readers. Post the answers to these questions any time in the month of July. Kelly will be hosting the Mr. Linky on her blog.

1) Why do you want to join the Poetry Project?

As I stated above, I have long been a lover of poetry, but since I've been out of school, I haven't had much motivation to read and write about it.  This project will give me just the push I need!

2) Do you have a favorite poet?

Ah!  Too hard!  I definitely love Pablo Neruda (as espoused above), but I also love Keats and Wordsworth - Dorothy and William.  I was a Brit. Lit. nerd in my day.

3) Hopefully this will go longer than a year. Do you have any suggestions for monthly themes? about a silly poem or a sentimental poem or one you remember from your childhood?

4) What are your experiences with poetry in the past? Have they been positive or negative?

As an English major in college and grad. school, I have had a wide range of experiences with poetry, mostly positive.  For my negative experiences, see question 6.

5) Tell us about a poem or poet that has had a profound effect on you. If you can’t think of a poem, how about a song? Or a line from a story?

My "lyric journals" from high school.
Ha - you would have to go to my "lyrics journals" from junior and senior year of high school to get that answer.  Let me see if I can snap a picture for you.  But...I attended a conference when I was a senior in college in Salisbury, Maryland.  One of the presenters read from Margaret Atwood's "Tricks with Mirrors" (see below) and that image of woman colliding with herself has stuck with me all these years.  It reminds me of Kathryn Byer's poem "Vanity," which I've posted about before.  Another shout out to Pablo Neruda: here's one of my favorite lines from his Book of Questions,

"Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?"

6) What frustrates you about poetry or the way we talk about poetry?

I get frustrated when people over-analyze poetry.  Sometimes a tree is just a tree, a word is just a word, and a poem is just a poem.  Sometimes it's beautiful because it is.  To rip a part a poem so nothing but bare bones are left can ruin the essence of the piece and destroy the intangible thing that made the poem powerful.  As an English major, I have witnessed this more times than I care to remember.

7) Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with poetry!

Me and Chloe reading at the creek
I have a beautiful 1 1/2 year old Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle mix that my sister rescued.  Her name is Chloe, and she is the light of my life.  She is also whining at my feet as I write this because she wants to go for a walk, and I am ignoring her.

Tricks with Mirrors
Margaret Atwood

It's no coincidence
this is a used
furniture warehouse.

I enter with you
and become a mirror.

are the perfect lovers,

that's it, carry me up the stairs
by the edges, don't drop me,

that would be bad luck,
throw me on the bed

reflecting side up,
fall into me,

it will be your own
mouth you hit, firm and glassy,

your own eyes you find you
are up against closed closed

There is more to a mirror
than you looking at

your full-length body
flawless but reversed,

there is more than this dead blue
oblong eye turned outwards to you.

Think about the frame.
The frame is carved, it is important,

it exists, it does not reflect you,
it does not recede and recede, it has limits

and reflections of its own.
There's a nail in the back

to hang it with; there are several nails,
think about the nails,

pay attention to the nail
marks in the wood,

they are important too.

Don't assume it is passive
or easy, this clarity

with which I give you yourself.
Consider what restraint it

takes: breath withheld, no anger
or joy disturbing the surface

of the ice.
You are suspended in me

beautiful and frozen, I
preserve you, in me you are safe.

It is not a trick either,
it is a craft:

mirrors are crafty.

I wanted to stop this,
this life flattened against the wall,

mute and devoid of colour,
built of pure light,

this life of vision only, split
and remote, a lucid impasse.

I confess: this is not a mirror,
it is a door

I am trapped behind.
I wanted you to see me here,

say the releasing word, whatever
that may be, open the wall.

Instead you stand in front of me
combing your hair.

You don't like these metaphors.
All right:

Perhaps I am not a mirror.
Perhaps I am a pool.

Think about pools.


  1. I definitely thought I already commented on this post! In any case, I read it back when you posted it and I am SO glad you are joining in! We don't have a lot of folks who are posting original poetry and I know that I love reading it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thanks for hosting! I am excited to be a part of this project.