Metros and Oceans

Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash

Dona always says she likes to listen to poetry, not read it so much. Most of the time I disagree because I read way more poetry than listen to it. I get my doses from Poetry Off The Shelf and a few other places where I hear poems, but for the most part, I consume it, eating it up mouthfuls at a time from the page. I eat it up like I do cold cereal, a little sloppy at times, sometimes way too big of a spoonful, and there will be a drip of milk somewhere.

But every once in a while I come across a poem that I hear read and it hits you and stays with you for days, or years. Currently I have one poem that has been with me for at least two years. On the Metro, by C.K. Williams. I heard it on Poetry Off The Shelf, of course, and it was read in such a way that I listened to it. Over, and over, and over. I never take it off my mp3 player, and I can honestly say that next to Billy Collins’ Tuesday, June 4, 1991 and Ada Limon’s How To Triumph Like A Girl, it is at the top of my list of favorite poems that I just cannot live without. Though honestly, I can hear the readers voice dripping out of the speakers and it just might far be the best poem I’ve ever heard read.

I love how the words just pull you in and you picture exactly what is happening and it’s all so real. Not a lot of poems do that for me, though many of Ada Limon’s do. I want to feel like I am a fly on the wall.

Well, today was another day where I heard a poem that was just so astoundingly perfect. Another episode of Poetry Off The Shelf and just an amazing poem by Jack Spicer. “Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”. Just the title alone drags you right in. But you must hear it read right. Both links, if you click on them, should take you right to the reading of the poem. You can search the Jack Spicer poem on The Poetry Foundation website, but I prefer the reading on the Poetry off the Shelf version.

Any poem that involves a goddess kind of drags me in. Blame it on all the Greek myths. Anyways, I’m totally understanding why Dona says she wants poetry read out loud. I’ve fallen in love with a few more poems lately since I started listening to a Poetry Unbound podcast and even going over already listened to episodes of Poetry off the Shelf.

I urge you to take a gander at these two poems. And let me know what you think. I’d also love to know of any poems that you need to hear outloud. Share them with me. Youtube has some great poems to listen to as well.

Kate

And The Books Are Taking Over

via Pinterest

There they lie. On the sofa, next to the love seat; piled up, a stack by my chair at the kitchen table. On the stairs leading up, next to my bedside in three stacks, under a pillow, on the bathroom vanity.  Leading up to the point of Mr. B stating emphatically today, “You have books everywhere.”

Currently, I do. I literally have books on almost every surface of my house. I have found myself wandering around with books and setting them down, only to come back later and pick up where I left off. Most are poetry books. I ordered a slew of them (meaning 5, from Better World Books) last week, and I currently have several different books floating around at various stages of being read. Course, then I went to the library today and came home with three more. Not poetry this time, but nonetheless, there are books everywhere.

I have not had much time to read read, as in, delve into a novel or whole book. I have been able to focus on a poem here or a spat of poetry there, but actual focus for a book has been nil since I finished Bittersweet a month or two ago. I’m a little lost as to when. Pardon, I am rereading Sous Chef for the third time (this time I’m underlining crucial parts I feel I need to remember)

via Pinterest but links to etsy

But poetry, oh poetry is lovely in that you don’t have to finish it from start to end. Pick one book up, flip through, read a poem, and put it down. Bam! Done.  My writing has taken on new flavor lately, dabbling in slightly lighter prose and poetry. Heck, even prose poetry, or is it prosey?  Either way, I have had some better days.

There has been a few things I felt I should write about, but they hit me like a sucker punch, or that feeling when I was hit in the sternum by a hardball when my dad was teaching me to play catch and I lost my breath. But sometimes it’s just too hard to write about. You get hit so hard you are still kind of having an out of body experience a week later. (side note, my playing catch and throwing a ball days were bad. Seriously bad. My dad says I can’t hit the broad side of a barn and that I throw like a girl. It took a 9 year old boy two years ago saying “but you are a girl…” to really not care if I can throw right)

So, instead I’m reading poetry. And submitting. I sent off six poems today to a place that was having open submissions. And I’m working on a document to send off to the New Yorker. Whew! I feel very brave taking that step. I’ve been saying I’m going to do it for months, but then I just put it off. I felt this driving desire to submit in the last few days and so here I am. I think part of it comes off of a poem I wrote about the steam explosion that was in the Flatiron District a week and a half ago. Or a week ago.

There was something so fanciful about that, for some reason, that I had to write something about it. I may not know much about New York, but it was fun to play around with things after going above in a bird’s eye view of the district, then going down to street level and looking at the aftermath.

It has been fun to write about lighter things. Work and some of the dramas at work have been dragging me down a lot, even though I’m happier. Much happier. But for months I have written a lot about relationships and the dramas of life and it’s exhausting. I need happier things in life. Having a good boss has helped. A different work load and a new menu and excitement has helped. I may be tired, but it’s a good tired.

So, now that I’ve rambled on, here is a list of the new books on my ‘Reading’ shelf.

  • The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
  • Lucifer at the Starlight by Kim Addonizio
  • The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass
  • Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (finally I own it!!!)
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • A New Geography of Poets compiled by Edward Field
  • On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
  • When We Were Young by A.A. Milne
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
  • 99 Poems: New & Selected by Dana Gioia
  • Poetry: The Golden Anniversary Issue edited by Henry Rago
  • Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
  • New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdrich
  • Sous Chef by Michael Gibney

And a slew of New Yorker magazines for the poetry aspects. I might be a little insane. I might be trying to overwhelm myself. All while adding in plenty of Poetry Off the Shelf podcasts and a new food/chef podcast called The Emulsion Podcast  by Justin Khanna.

Cooking, submitting, writing, staying super busy. I didn’t think my year was gonna be like this.

What are you all reading and into this summer?  I’d love to hear.

Kate

Spoon River Gossip Column

How, as a poet, I didn’t know about Spoon River Anthology is beyond me. I just recently found out about the marvelous poems of Edgar Lee Masters by chance as I was listening to a back issue of Poetry Off the Shelf.    It had been 100 years since it had first been published, and the book, despite being somewhat dated in stories, has never gone out of print. Now talk about staying power.

I fell in love with the tragic poems recited in the podcast, but it was once I started reading them that it really became the good stuff. Sitting down and flipping through the Kindle version ( I now know I must get a hardback copy) I felt my heart start to race and the just utter shock at the stories hit me like I was reading a gossip column about the trials of all of Hollywood.  I sit there and I want to share this titillating story with my mother.  “Did you hear?” is running through the back of my head as I read one more snippet of scandal. The horrors, humor, and tragedy just make my heart start to pound and I am flipping the next page (the crackle of a newspaper is nearly at hand!) and I’m on to the next salacious story.

Back when my mother was in Jr. High, (I believe) my aunt did a skit of sorts reading three poems from Spoon River. Lucinda Matlock, Yee Bow, and Elsa Wertman were those recited. Years later, meaning just a few weeks ago, I was telling my mother all about finding Spoon River Anthology and falling in love with it, and her first thing she said to me was, “Why does that sound so familiar?”  I explained the premise and boom, she was back remembering hearing her sister recite the poems. After I downloaded the ebook, she flipped through it, page after page and found those three poems and said those were the ones she remembered here. Boom, and email from my aunt confirmed it. Clearly the poems have such staying power as to stick in the head of a 14 year old girl, who is now much older.

I can totally understand the appeal of such poems, done in such a loose, informal way, that there is no actual meter or rhyming scheme, because the stories themselves talk of life in such a way that you can relate, even if the poems and situations were written one hundred plus years ago. There is till rape, racism, hate, greed, sloth, longing, adultery, pure love, long lasting love, commitment, abortion, murder…… All of our sins are spilled out for us to ooh and ahh over, with no thought that we are just like them. Written in such a way that you eagerly turn to the next story.

I think every high school drama class should perform a rendition of Spoon River Anthology. Take and mix it up with each class. Heck, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I could stand out there and recite a story that has such meaning and emotion embodied in so few words. Heartbreaking and entertaining, I highly recommend Spoon River Anthology for anyone interested in learning about poetry and having it almost completely understandable. And if you enjoy People magazine, well even better. The gossip rags have nothing on Spoon River’s drama.

If you are looking for a free copy, Project Gutenberg has one, as the copy write is out of date, but personally while I downloaded that one, I like the Kindle Dover Thrift Edition.

Kate

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