This is just to say

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It is National Poetry Month, and I promise not to subject anyone to my poetry all month, because that would just be too much.

I have something of a love/hate relationship with poetry. Or perhaps it would be better to say a love/dislike relationship. Probably the first thing I ever wrote was a poem. It was about flowers and it was for my third grade teacher. She was delighted, and now I am a writer. That’s how these things happen.

William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams

I wrote bad poetry in high school and bad poetry in college, and then I mostly stopped. I had stopped writing much of anything besides horrible research articles and almost completely stopped reading, and perhaps poetry was just a casualty of this overall literary drought. But somewhere in that period of time, I decided I didn’t like poetry. Even now I’m not sure why.

I went right on loving songs. I went right on loving specific poems…The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Eurydice and In Memoriam and The Jabberwocky and America. I did develop an aversion to the idea of going and listening to people read their poetry, which might have coincided with the rise of the whole poetry slam phenomenon.

I will confess that there’s still something about the idea of going and hearing people read their poetry out loud that makes my skin crawl. It all seems so serious. In grad school, I heard a recording of Allen Ginsberg reading America and people were clearly rolling in the aisles with laughter. That kind of poetry reading I could get behind.

Now I’m over the whole good poem/bad poem thing. Write what you like. Read what you like. You don’t have to go to poetry readings if you don’t want to. Be willing to change your mind.

The first time I read William Carlos Williams I thought he was a pretentious, untalented prat. And then I changed my mind. So.

 

This Is Just to Say
William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

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