Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Book Review: Sunday, April 13, 2014: National Poetry Month

The public library in Madame L's town has a bookcase near the checkout desk with books recommended by the librarians. This month, the books of those shelves have mostly been poetry books, which (of course) has delighted Madame L.

Do you, Dear Readers, enjoy poetry? Madame L used to hate poetry, undoubtedly because of the many boring and formal poems she had to read and write essays about in high school and college English classes.

Lately, though, she has enjoyed checking out random books of poems from her public library. And this month, the library has made it even easier for her by putting all those books there.

There are still some poetry collections that Madame L does not stoop or even pretend to enjoy, however, including the poems of Robert Service, AKA "The Bard of the Yukon." So Madame L passed on all those books in that bookcase. Sorry, all those people who can quote entire poems such as "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Shooting of Dan McGraw."

Madame L did pick up a collection by Garrison Keillor, called "77 Love Sonnets." Madame L didn't think Garrison Keillor had 77 sonnets, or poems of any kind, in him; but he did, at some time, anyway; and someone has published them all together in this book. Madame L is glad she picked up this book because it helped her realize that some of the sonnets she had disliked so much in years past were not that bad, after all.

Madame L also picked up "A Companion for Owls, Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Long Hunter, Back Woodsman, &tc.," by Maurice Manning. She scanned  through it quickly but not so quickly that she was not able to ascertain that which she had indeed suspected: Daniel Boone did not actually write any of these poems. And the guy who did write them did not impress Madame L favorably, either.

Who else? Ah, Alice Walker, in "Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth," impressed Madame L very favorably indeed, as did Billy Collins, with "Aimless Love." Madame L knows that not everyone likes Billy Collins' poems as much as Madame L does, and, as usual when Madame L becomes aware of someone's disagreeableness, she doesn't care. She likes those poems, and she had a great time scanning through and reading some of them. She is going to keep the Walker and Collins books out of the library as long as she can so she enjoy more of these poems and re-enjoy the ones she has already enjoyed.

Here's an example from Billy Collins, a villanelle that uses that form perfectly while making a witty commentary on the form. What Madame L means to say is that this "Villanelle" is the most meta poem Madame L has ever read, so meta that even a dunce like Madame L can figure out the form of a villanelle just from reading this one (though Madame L will not paste the entire poem here):

The first line will not go away
though the middle ones will disappear,
and the third, like the first, is bound to get more play.

Examples of this type are written every day,
and whether uplifting or drear,
that first line will just not go away.

(...and so on...)

Fun fact: While trying to find this poem online so she COULD paste the entire poem here, Madame L read that Billy Collins has also written a parody of the villanelle form, called the paradelle. He claimed it was invented in eleventh-century France, but he invented it himself; and other poets have since enjoyed writing in this form, too.


One final poetry book that Madame L selected from the bookcase was "Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies," Shel Silverstein's first poetry collection, which Madame L loved. Here's "One-Legged Zantz":

Please be kind to the One-Legged Zantz.
Consider his feelings---
Don't ask him to dance.

Madame L hopes her Dear Readers will enjoy a few poems this month and share them with the rest of the world. And, while you're at it, maybe you'll want to write a poem or two, too.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I saw this article today about five different poetry types. I thought you might be interested, even though I'm sure you already know all about them. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/16/poetry-forms_n_5159251.html