Friday, December 01, 2006

Tagged with a Poetry Meme

Imagine that!

Thanks to Cindy I have been posed a series of questions. Hopefully the answers will not bore readers to death.

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was....hard for me to say with certainty but I am sure the first I recall was a nursery rhyme. Probably read by my mother or grandmother. I can recall a big thick nursery rhyme book that they would both read from. My grandmother had enormous influence on me in my early years.

I think I was most impressed by the images of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. I recall all these people being places and doing things, the King, the Queen, the Maid... counting money, eating bread and honey, hanging out clothes.... I liked how busy it seemed (perhaps a foreshadowing of ADD) but it would be a long time before I would view this a poetry.

Very likely the first poem to really speak to me as a poem was Frost's Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening. Whose woods these are I think I know/ seemed somber and formal and very strong. Still, I think it is these lines, The woods are lovely dark and deep / but I have promises to keep / and miles to go before I sleep / and miles to go before I sleep // that reached my deep and left an impression on me while yet still young. It became a mantra that to this day probably contributes to my uneasiness with aging and death because I feel the incredible drive to make a difference in this world. Which surely accounts for my involvement in politics much earlier in life than most people.

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and... I really don't recall a lot about it. I remember thinking it was horrible at the time as did most all the students. I think we were given a choice between several but I have no idea what it was. What I do recall is that whatever it was the poem was about four or five stanzas and that when it came time to recite it I was very uneasy and could only recall about two-thirds of it. Others fell short but I remember several students that memorized very long poems and did them perfectly. I felt terribly inferior but that was not uncommon for me in those days.

To all those who point to such experiences and say being forced to memorize poems turned them against poetry at an early age, I can say in the end, the experience neither helped or hindered my love of poetry.

3. I read/don't read poetry because.... I read it because it speaks to me in a way that reading anything else fails to do. It often captures a spirit within me and causes it to stir. Poetry at times will awaken feelings and emotions to speak to things in my past that otherwise remain locked inside me. It is a freeing experience. Sometimes scary, often times quite enjoyable but always pushing me to think and feel.

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is ....... Oh wow, there are so many, but one that often comes to my mind is going to sound really funny coming from a guy. It would be The Blue Dress by Sharon Olds. Olds is able to bubble to the surface very deep emotions as though she were pouring peroxide over what appears to be a superficial wound but bring out so much more than you thought was there.

5. I write/don't write poetry, but... I write poetry. Writing has been therapeutic to me, but it is like more than just taking medicine for something it is also like a vitamin and mineral supplement. Even when it is not emotionally healing, it is strengthening.

I seriously believe that it also helped me deal with my issues of mortality. It is the best, no, the only way I know to beat death. Create a part of you that death cannot have.

In more recent year I have come to embrace the artistic value of poetry. Something I did not recognize in my younger writing. In this way, what and how I write have evolved and continues to change in voice and content.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature.....for several reasons. I like that when I read poetry it speaks to me on a level different from anything else. But I also enjoy reading poetry because my eyes are not as good as they used to be and sometimes I tire easy of reading longer material, which frustrates me. Especially since I am also learning that I am not as broadly well read as I would like to be. I do think this hinders to some degree my own writing.

7. I find poetry...... (chuckling here) much to the dismay of my family, I find poetry in almost everything. They do not share passion for poetry. Don't get me wrong, they are very supportive of my writing.

I see poetry in a 6-4-3 double play. I see it in an empty baseball diamond. I see it in my backyard, the kitchen, in politics, in the silence of the night. This can be troubling to some. ( smile)

8. The last time I heard poetry.... I suppose it was myself reading out loud from a manuscript before I sent it off yesterday. Trying to reassure myself I suppose.

I used to go to readings fairly regularly. And last year I was reading every month someplace and sometimes two or three times in a month. It has been a while since I've done that. I do listen to poetry as well from various podcast sources.

9. I think poetry is like... life itself. I think it's like complexities reduced to simplest terms. It is an affirmation of magic. Evidence of a higher power. It is the closest thing to a universal language of the soul. It is where the heart and mind meet and a great fission occurs that produces the art of ourselves in language.

Ah... now who to tag with this.....? Deborah, Robert and Kelli.


Anonymous said...

Ouch! Next time you tag me, use cellotape, not thumbtacks. :)

Anonymous said...

As I thought! Not boring at all.

I especially like:
1). The comparison of writing poetry with medicine and supplements. "Even when it is not emotionally healing, it is strengthening." Well said. (Wish I'd written that!).
2). Your mention of Old's "The Blue Dress", which I didn't recall having read before. Thank you.
3). Your answer to #3. Something I identify with but had never tried to articulate before. Now I don't have to.

Michael A. Wells said...

LOL - Just trying to spread the pain around a little Robert.

Michael A. Wells said...


The questions really were not that bad after I got into them. As to articulate however, I suspect you are suffering from snow blindness. Put some shades on and try reading it again. ;)