One of the things I decided to read more of during 2016 was poetry.; it hasn’t necessarily been my Everest(that’s drama) but I rarely venture into it. Some haiku,Rumi,Brodsky,Szymborska and Tranström has long been favorites but my adventures in the lyrical has been rather random.
Not that I took the academic route this year, following a curriculum or anything, I just tried to read more and assumed the rest would follow. And I will declare success; I have read more and from very different ends of the spectrum; from narrative poetry in the form of Beowulf to much hyped spoken word artist Rupi Kaur’s collection Milk and Honey.
I don’t regret any of it; I have learned, I have understood some things and I have felt even if I everything was a revelation and a love affair.
What I found out quickly is that it suits me to read a bit everyday. The Everyman’s library pocket poets as a well as a few of the Penguin little black classics have given me easy access to very diverse poets, with the Everyman’s library ones sometimes according to a theme, thus giving me a framework of reference. Monster verse and Echoing green were the ones I liked the best of the half dozen or so that I have read.
Another book that I have returned to more then once(partly because I bought a copy and have it at hand) is Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe. I loved the images of beauty and sorrow that Howe paints with words.
The one that stands out though is Basho(I read Lips too chilled in the Penguin little black classics-series). I have long had a fascination with haiku; when it’s good I feel it. I must read more of him. Such a great voice; funny,irreverent and deeply insightful. I like my poets with a glint in their eye.
And thus we come to Byron. He turns up everywhere and he brings drama; I keep saying it because it’s true. I make a point of mentioning it every time I run across a reference to him, which is often. I finally read the mans’ work. I like the myth more, but he can be very funny and sharp even if the context of it is somewhat lost on me. His poems hasn’t aged all that well I guess; I really needed to do research as to who he was making fun of.
My poetry year “ended” with Hatred of poetry by Ben Lerner; not a book of poetry but about poetry. Lerner writes a great essay about the impossibility of good poetry but also makes a very good argument as to why poets have to keep on trying.
For myself I vow to keep reading poetry; now that I’ve gotten into the habit I will try to keep at it. Undoubtedly is has made my life better.