Ever since NPR’s show on This Is Just To Say poetry spoofs, I’ve been reading poetry. I subscribe to Poem-A-Day at Poets.org and recently stumbled upon an amazing new poetry collection called Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheeder Bonano (Wow!).
Why was I not reading poetry before? I thought I was too busy for such things, but in fact poetry is perfect for busy people. Poems are short and vivid. They pack a punch in just a few words. I also felt poetry-illiterate or poetically challenged. I thought that I should be more educated in poetry, before I tried to unravel the complicated web of authors’ intentions. Silly me.
If you don’t read poetry, I found this wonderful poem to inspire you.
How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.
You can now read poetry.
I can read poetry. And you can too. Have a favorite poem or author? Please leave a Comment.