Poetry in Our House
As a poetry editor I periodically pick up a book to enjoy and then perhaps review. In February I may give them away as prizes in the annual Eye On Life Poetry Contest. (Contest opens November 15th; deadline is January 31st.) In the mean time these books that may be destined to be prizes reside here and there in our home or in my backpack. If I become attached to a book of poetry and decide to keep it, it may find a home on a shelf.
In general, poetry in our house is much more likely to be found on a table, couch or nightstand than on a shelf. And since we are not very well versed, so to speak, in the library sciences, those of our poetry books that reside on shelves are not segregated, but spread across the panorama of our shelf space as the seeds of the milkweed are spread over miles and miles of sundry meadows by the wind.
The location of books of poetry within our house is sometimes related to our feelings toward them. Slim volumes of Mary Oliver are always turning up on some table, bed or couch as we re-read them often. I received the anthology, “A Book Of Luminous Things,” edited by Czeslaw Milosz, as a gift and I am currently reading it off and on. At right it is shown peeking out from beneath Austin’s “Emma,” that someone in the family is currently reading.
The books with which our poetry books find themselves keeping company can be interesting. One one particular shelf is a collection of poetry by Maxine Kumin called, “Where I Live,” one of my favorites, with these other books here, quite an eclectic bunch.
On another shelf, another favorite of mine, a rather droll book on poetic forms by several poets, edited by E.O. Parrot, “How To Be Well-Versed In Poetry”, appears surrounded by “The Best American Poetry” of the year 2000 that was nothing to write home about, as I recall. The yearly anthologies of “Best American Short Stories”, although obviously not poetry, I highly recommend.
Behind some videos can be found some works by Sherman Alexi. I like Alexi’s work, but don’t re-read it often. Come to think of it, it might be nice to revisit that window into Native American existence. There is one particular poem about a family followed by fire that I remember being very compelling. I’ll have to go and search for it after I’m done writing this.
We own a couple of anthologies that I find very useful. The “Norton Anthology of Poetry”, of course, but then there is a really excellent anthology published by Norton called “The Making of a Poem” that I highly recommend as a collection of truly compelling poetry as well as a valuable reference on poetic forms.
One book I like very much that is a book about poetry rather than of poetry is “What is Found There” by the late Adrienne Rich. It is a kind of ‘state of poetry’ address, in which the causes, effects and evolution of poetry is discussed in a very compelling and thought provoking way.
There are also slim books by lesser know poets tucked in between other books or sitting in darkness in seldom visited drawers, and doubtless other more well known works I’ve left out. The books mentioned here are the ones readily at hand. Perhaps that makes them the ones most worth mentioning. It was from these books that I chose poems to read to parents and children at our local elementary school annual Poetry Night, and also to read to my sister as she rested before she passed away. I guess it is safe to say that poetry has played a large role in my life.
That reminds me, since we are parents we have Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein on upper bookshelves and behind other books since our children lost interest in them. They wait there patiently for the probable eventual grandchildren, I suppose.
That’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? Perhaps I’ll write a poem about it.