Read More/Blog More Poetry, April: Emily Dickinson

read more/blog more poetry

Welcome to the April installment of Read More/Blog More Poetry, a monthly blogging event held by Regular Rumination!

I’ve been very slowly making my way through Barnes & Noble’s The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, skipping around through the different sections and marking my favorite poems with those little colored, sticky, page markers. I would like to do a more in-depth post about Dickinson’s poetry when I finish reading the collection, so today I would just like to share one poem I have particularly enjoyed so far:

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!

I love the theme of this poem even more than the way it is written, although I do adore the lilting rhythm her poems tend to have — and the characteristic break in rhythm in the last few lines! I am a huge believer in the importance of literacy and its ability to liberate and empower readers (just look at Dreiser, Wright, and I’m sure many other authors I don’t know of), and I love so many things about this poem; how perfect is it that the words filled him like food and drink, nourished his spirit, and gave him wings? And I can’t get over the line “he danced along the dingy days.” I have a huge weakness for alliteration, and this one is stunning.

What’s your favorite Emily Dickinson poem? Do you know any other great poems that extoll the power of reading?

Poetry, Aloud

two loons taken for vultures by sandra cookson poetryIt has been quite a week for me and poetry! It has somehow cropped up in my life an astounding number of times in the last few days. Yesterday, poetry make yet another appearance in my life. I work for my campus newspaper, The Griffin, as a writer and a copyreader for the Life & Arts section. I usually write about books (most of my articles for the paper actually appear in some form on this blog), so when the L&A editor needed someone to cover a poetry reading by a professor from our college, I bustled down to the bookstore, ready to jot down notes while enjoying some poetry.

The poet, Sandra Cookson, has been a member of the Canisius College faculty for 23 years, teaching writing and literature classes. Last night, she read from her recently published chapbook Two Loons Taken for Vultures at Talking Leaves Books, my absolute favorite indie bookstore in Buffalo.

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Read More/Blog More Poetry, March: Allen Ginsberg

read more/blog more poetryWelcome to the March installment of the Read More/Blog More Poetry event hosted by Regular Rumination! As I’ve said before, I don’t know much about poetry and even find it a little intimidating, but I am using this event as a challenge to broaden my literary horizons and learn more about this art form!

In the last few days, I’ve actually had a few interesting conversations about poetry, stemming from the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair I attended on Saturday. When I confessed to a poetry publisher that I have trouble reading poetry because I sometimes don’t understand what the poet is talking about, he encouraged me to focus more on the words and how they make me feel than analyzing them, assuring me that I don’t have to “understand” a poem to enjoy it; what matters more is my emotional reaction. I wrote about this in my post about the BSPBF and received some really really helpful feedback from a few readers. You can read the article and comments here.

I chose to read Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg for this month’s Read More/Blog More Poetry post, and I tried to put my new perspective into practice while reading it. I think I need to spend more time with “Howl” before I can say anything about it; my one reading of the three-part poem left me with scattered impressions, and I would really like to read it a few more times to let it sink in a bit more. Continue reading

Read More/Blog More Poetry February: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

read more/blog more poetryLet me start out this post by saying I have never “gotten” poetry. I have always found it super intimidating and hard to understand, and when I had to write five Romantic poems for my high school AP English class, the one I had written in seventh grade and lazily turned in received the highest grade. Clearly, poetry is not something I have ever been very good at. However, I came across the monthly Read More/Blog More Poetry event hosted by Regular Rumination and though it might be fun! A monthly post about poetry seemed like a good way to try to learn more and maybe discover some poets I would really like.

This is my first Read More/Blog More Poetry post, and I would like to talk about Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “Pity the Nation.” I discovered Ferlinghetti during a visit to the historic City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco over the summer. The store is known for being a centerpiece of the Beat movement of the 1950s; it was founded by Peter D. Martin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti himself, and it published early works by Beat writers — notably, Allan Ginsburg’s “Howl.” While in the store, I picked up a postcard on which was printed “Pity the Nation” and was completely struck by it: Continue reading