Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dead Poet Mentor

I was thinking tonight the way I’ve been zipping through poetry books these past few weeks, (Just finished WILD IRIS by Louise Gluck) one a week for the past four months that I’m going to have to be thinking about what next soon. I’ve actually got the next two weeks covered.

Two books on my list to acquire and read are The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin. and The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton. I’ve already developed a taste for Merwin’s work. Migration is a wonderful collection of work that I often get lost in.

Sexton’s Complete Poems: I’ve often started to purchase but ultimately arrived at the checkout with something else. I’ve decided recently with the help of another poet to make Sexton my dead poet mentor.  You ask, “How’s a dead poet going to mentor me?” That’s what her book is for. A source of inspiration. A place to go for ideas. A place to search for answers when I am stumped… WWAD? (What would Annie Do)

I admit the idea seemed a little far fetched to me at first.  I mean there were several things that seemed odd. She’s dead for one. She’s female. There are however advantages to selecting her for this role. The difference in gender actually could work as a plus, providing a clue to the female persona for poems. She has a significant collection so there is plenty to learn from. Anne was not timid about subject matter. She wrote quite freely about topics. Something I could learn to do better.

I had actually thought of Sexton as sort of the Patron Saint of those who came to poetry through a less traditional (non-academic) route.  Sexton was not a product of academia though she achieved sufficient recognition for her work that she went on to teach at Boston University as well several other Colleges.   At any rate, I’ll soon be putting her to work mentoring me from the grave.


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