The other day when I mentioned that I would blog about the poetry book which I believe was the most influential one to me that I read this past year, I did not at that moment have a specific book in mind. There are a number of poets that I have read individual works of that were inspiring to me, but not an entire book written by them, so I will limit my choice the criteria of a book by a single poet. There are many that have impacted me in one way or another. But I have chosen in the end, a book that is written by a living poet, Robert Bly.
Morning Poems by Robert Bly is a small book. I read it the first time in an afternoon on a bus trip with my youngest daughter. Reading aloud many of the poems that struck me as the most interesting. My daughter, who is not particularly into poetry, seemed to enjoy many of these gems. A book of poems that can penetrate the minds that are normally closed to poetry must have something going for them.
What Bly's book did most for me was to reinforce the idea that poetry that is not static. Most of these works were about what seemed like common folks -- in common situations in life that were often told in a most uncommon context. I liked that. I liked the freedom that seemed to radiate from the pages. The freedom to know it was alright to let go with my own writing and be more bold about the images. It is very liberating to come to that point where I can accept that I don't have to explain away everything... like the poem must have a set of instructions to understand it.
Bly also reinforces that notion that writing about common things is quite all-right. I do recognize Bly as a poet with a history of activism. An outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam and the present war in Iraq. He can be quite serious about some of his messages. This is alright by me because I certainly believe that when possible, poets should play a role in the defense of humanity. But alas, it is his "down home" subject matter I like and the fact that he can challenge you so well with his imagery of everyday life.
I'd like to know some of your favorite poetry books - ones that greatly impacted you any why.