Friday, September 4, 2009

What Rhymes with "Bee" and Ends with "Tree"?

It's a lame headline, I know, but I'm already a little brain-fried from trying unsuccessfully to add a few SocialVibe gadgets to Lull. (I'll explain later.) The answer to the question is Poetry.

Anyway, I've added poetry to the circle of reading material I have at hand and I'm quite enjoying it. I think I may even protect my poetry books from the library culling I'm still working on. And I recommend that you look into some poetry yourself. Here's why:

1. Most poems are not a huge commitment of time. You can get an entire poem read in less than 5 minutes.
2. A single poem has a beginning, middle, and end and takes you on a journey just as a novel would—but in much less time and with far fewer words.
3. The construction of poetry can be complex. There are a variety of components to it that serious devotees of the art examine while reading, but you don't need to have a scholarly understanding of the artistry and structural intents behind a poem to enjoy it.
4. A really good poem can pull you into its world and uplift or broaden your own.

Author Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation) started reading poetry to offset the daily news:

“...I’ve been on this kick where, before I face the morning paper’s apocalypse roundup, I read a poem. I had hoped this would make me start each day in awe of humanity. Sometimes it works, but mostly I just read the news imagining melting polar ice caps drowning all the Emily Dickinson paperbacks in the world.”

Well, poetry won't necessarily change reality for you. But it can give you a perfect moment in anotherwise trying day. 

If you don't have any poems lying around the house, just visit the Poetry Foundation or the Academy of American Poets. And be sure to take a peek at Unemployment Haiku Weekly, where you'll find only the smallest, most rule-laden genre of poetry—the haiku—on only one topic: unemployment. Plus the author accompanies each haiku with a cartoon. What's not to like?

I don't mean to sound like a poetry evangelist, but recently, as I've been confronted with more problems and more far-reaching decisions to make, I find it difficult to concentrate properly on a novel and thereby difficult to enjoy. Poetry has proven to be a great temporary substitute—and likely a permanent addition to my reading circle.

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