In October 2012 I posted Part One of poems I like. This is Part Two.
The idea is very simple. This is a summary of all the poetry I’ve stumbled across online recently that I liked and thought worth sharing. I hope you find one or two gems in here that you enjoy too.
I’ll start with Edgar Allan Poe. I confess I’ve never read a single one of Poe’s poems before, despite him being a giant of American literature. At the recommendation of a fellow blogger over at Dead Stars and Poetry, I tried out his masterpiece The Raven, which is wonderfully atmospheric and haunting (“Only this, and nothing more”) and Annabel Lee, a delightful poem of love lost that feels a little ballad-like in form.
Mental note – read more Poe!
I’ve also been reading enjoying George Szirtes. Szirtes is a British poet, Hungarian-born. His poems have a surreal yet grandiose feel to them that is rather unsettling but also quite gripping. I would recommend Crabwise as a starting point. It beings in a comical vein but develops into an incredibly moving poem and features the wonderful description of doctors as “strange gods of hope / curators of the body and the edges of the soul.” Szirtes, by the way, writes a fascinating blog and is also on Twitter at @george_szirtes.
Death isn’t a subject anyone likes to dwell on too much, but it makes a moving subject for (well-written) poetry. So next, here’s two poems about death that you really must read.
Story of My Death by Leopoldo Lugones (translated from Spanish) is uncomfortable reading at first, but you only need to re-read it a couple of times before it becomes clear it is less about death and more about life and love. Four Little Words by Jassy Melson, on the other hand, is a meditation on how the death of one person is simultaneously both inconsequential and momentous. A real gem this one and very moving.
Jacob Polley has recently published an acclaimed collection The Havocs, and rather neatly you can preview a few of its poems on Google Books. I enjoyed his quirky poem The Weasel which plays on the traditional nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel. Google Books looks like a good way to sample new poetry before you buy, assuming they do this for other collections too.
Gabriel by Adrienne Rich is a brilliantly judged, almost stream-of-consciousness depiction of a woman, reading alone, imaging a visit from the angel Gabriel. I like the interplay of biblical and modern language about love.
e. e. cummings isn’t a poet I’ve read for some time but he’s an old favourite from school, so it’s been an absolute joy to delve again into his raucous and even now startlingly original poetic forms. i carry your heart is a beautiful, wholehearted love poem, while r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r has to be one of the most fun poems ever written in English.
Sometimes a poem speaks to you in an unexpected way. I found this with Listening to Sun Ra, Birds Convene Outside my Window by Charlie Clark. It’s about a man who usually listens to conventional music making himself listen to Sun Ra, a jazz musician, and walking us through the experience. I related to the narrator very strongly and immediately marked this poem “all-time favourite.” I’d be interested to know what other people think of it.
The Old Municipal Pool by M. Flynn Ragland, seen here on the GoodReads poetry competition shortlist for January, is a really striking work, which deals with a serious subject (murder) in a subtle but effective way. Take a look and while you’re at it why not join GoodReads, which is brilliant social network for readers.
Finally, here’s a look at some of the poetry articles I’ve enjoyed reading recently.
The Huffington Post ran an interesting little article looking at when does quoting poetry in movies work. Meanwhile, I discovered from The Atlantic Wire that Chaucer coined the word “twitter.” There was a great study in The Guardian on what times of the day different poets like to write. I don’t usually think of food as being an ideal subject for poetry, but The New York Times proved me wrong in a recent article. Finally, the Irish Times has been arguing that Cecil Day-Lewis deserves a resurgence in popularity.
That’s all I’ve got for you now. It’s been a pleasure writing this and reading through all this wonderful poetry again. I hope you enjoy it too!
Thanks for reading.