My #nerdlution is to read more poetry. For 50 days, I’ve committed to reading at least one poem a day.
It turns out that I was right in my theory about poetry being like potato chips: it really is hard to read just one. Yesterday, for instance, I found a poem by Joyce Sutphen that I absolutely loved at Reading to the Core. I followed the link to Writer’s Almanac and ended up reading a few poems by other poets. Since I’d never heard of Sutphen, I Googled her and found some more of her poems to read. Before I realized what I was doing, I’d spent nearly an hour reading poetry.
The simile works on another level too: there is such a thing as trying to read too much poetry in one day. If I read more than 4 or 5 poems at a time, I don’t absorb much or remember what I’ve read. But it’s so easy to keep turning the pages when I’m reading a collection I enjoy. I’ll read 12 or 15 poems in a row and then realize I have no idea what the last 8 were about.
Rereading favorite poetry is incredibly rewarding. If I read a few poems I dislike, I cleanse the palate by rereading a poem I love.
Rereading poetry I don’t like is also worthwhile. If I read a poem I don’t like, I try to return to it a couple of days later and reread it to see if it resolves in any kind of way for me.
I am thinking that I want to start beginning all of my classes by sharing a poem.
Reading poetry daily, taking in such concentrated language, slowing down in my reading, is slowing me down in other reading that I do, giving me more stamina for difficult text and more interest in rereading.
I often want to write after I read a poem or two. Some line, some image, some idea sparks something in me.
Perhaps oddest of all, reading so much poetry is making me want to write poetry. After I finished grading and submitted grades yesterday, I had a whole day to myself to spend as I pleased. I spent it with a pen in hand, working on lines and images and metaphors to try to capture a particular experience. I had been working on this piece in prose, and it wasn’t coming together as I wanted it to. Trying to work it out through a poem gave me entirely new ways of thinking about it.
I found all of these on my shelf this morning:
I have no idea why I have so many books about how to write poetry, given that I never have tried to do so before. But now they’ve been added to my TBR pile.