Friday, October 23, 2015

How I Read Poetry






So, it's not National Poetry Month anymore, but I read poetry anyway! I liked individual poems I'd read by Billy Collins, specifically "Introduction to Poetry," so awhile ago, I picked up Sailing Alone Around the Room. Probably when I was in that phase a few years ago when I thought I should read poetry, but I didn't really want to. I picked up The Romantic Dogs by Roberto Bolaño around the same time. I remember buying the latter at Kramerbooks.

So, earlier last month, I put both books in my purse and walked around with them for a while, like I did Leigh Stein's Dispatch from the Future and Liliana Ursu's Lightwall. I guess I must read books of poetry in twos, one in English and one in translation? No, I have no idea what the reason is for this completely random trend. I also bought both of those books way before I read them.

But I think the trick with poetry (for me) has been both forcing myself into the opportunity of reading poetry AND giving myself permission to say no. For both Leigh Stein's and Liliana Ursu's books, I read and liked almost every single poem. At first, this was the case with the Billy Collins book, but in the middle, a lot of the poetry just stopped interesting me. So, I skipped it until I found ones that I liked. With the Bolaño book, I really wasn't into a lot of it. I liked reading the English and Spanish side-by-side, since I could actually understand some of the Spanish, but with the exception of a few, and some fascinating wordings, I couldn't get into it. And that was okay. Maybe I'll try again someday. But I feel like I'm finally getting the value of trying to appreciate art that isn't immediately gratifying, or perhaps depends more on accumulated life experience. It feels like growing. And that's something I never want to stop doing.

How do you read poetry? Do you make an effort to read genres you find challenging? Has your perspective on types of art changed over time?

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