Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading Journal

Good morning! The sun is just starting to come up while the clouds are slowly moving in. Today's forecast calls for rain which is perfect for me. Later on I'm leaving to celebrate my grandmother's birthday but until then I plan on reading and relaxing.

My plan last week was to stay off the internet and get some homework done. It didn't happen. I love being online. There's so many things to read and learn about. Thanks to fellow bloggers, I found a ton of books to put on my TBR list and pile and ordered several books this week.

I've been dipping into Language for a New Century: Contemporary from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond all week. It's a massive anthology of poetry from more than 400 poets, from sixty different countries, translated from fifty languages. One of the goals of the book is to introduce readers to poets they would never hear about otherwise. The book has been receiving criticism because it can only give you one poem per poet. I say the book is an introduction. If you want to read more from a poet then go and find their books and help support translated works.

The foreword by Carolyn Forsche gave me goosebumps and made me read it aloud:
We know, from the mellifluous litany of poets' names, who wrote these poems, but we might also consider what wrote them: the urge to sing, pray, cry, announce, and whisper; to write cultures into visibility; to write not after events but in their aftermath, through collisions in time and space, exile within and without; to walk around in the ruins of wars, awake. What wrote them was a determination to revolt against silence with a bit of speaking. What wrote was an upwelling of poetic apprehension of world.
Forsche calls the book "a field guide to the human condition". I think it's a perfect description for all poetry.

Reading this book made me think of my relationship with poetry. As a teenager it was all I read. I checked out the Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson hundreds of times in eighth grade. "Because I could not stop for death/He kindly stopped for me. . ."

After Dickinson I read and reread the haikus of Richard Wright before moving on to Alice Walker's Her Blue Body Everything we Know. "Good night, Willie Lee, I'll see you in the morning" is a favorite poem from that collection. From there I arrived at Chitra Divakaruni's Black Candle. It stayed next to my bed for months as I read and reread it, raking up library fines.

I wonder what happened, what made me neglect poetry for years? Now Language for a New Century is leading me back to the collections I've loved. Right now Black Candle and the Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson are sitting at my nightstand once again, while Her Blue Body is on its way to me. This week poetry has become the first and last things of my day.

What do you think of poetry? Do you read it? If so, what are your favorite poems? Who are your favorite poets? If not, why?


Ana S. said...

Welcome back! It's great to see you posting again.

Like you, I'd read a lot of poetry in my teens...I'd love to get back into the habit. Actually, I ordered a poetry collection the other day, so that's a start!

Some of my favourite poets: Fernando Pessoa, e.e. cummings, Sharon Olds, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Byron and Robert Browning.

priscilla said...

Very interesting! I've read poetry off and on, but I've never been a devoted reader. I would say I've read more as an adult than I did in my teens. My favorites are Rilke, Larkin, and Wallace Stevens.

serendipity_viv said...

Nice to see you back. The internet is such a draw, isn't it. The poetry book sounds fantastic. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy your grandmothers party.

Eva said...

What an AWESOME poetry anthology! I'm trying to get more into poetry this year, so I'm crossing my fingers my library has this one. I did a big post recently on my favourite poets-they include Longfellow, Cummings, Dickinson, Neruda, and Akhmatova.

Gavin said...

Great post, the internet can be so seductive. Sometime I feel like I've fallen into a worm hole and then I shake my head and hours have gone by!

I can't wait to read this book. Poetry is a big part of my life when I let it be. Neruda,Merwin, Carruth,Bishop,Rilke,Sexton,Oliver.. I could go on and on. Have a great week.

Gavin said...

As for my favorite Morrison I'm conflicted. I loved Song of Solomon (I think it was the first I read) but Beloved was just astounding. I did enjoy A Mercy, just not as much as I had hoped to.

Vasilly said...

I've only read The Bluest Eye. It's one of my favorite books ever. I bought Beloved about two weeks ago. I plan on reading it soon.

Anonymous said...

Poetry isn't my thing; although, I have written some of my own. I feel like poetry is a very personal thing that to read someone's poetry is almost an invasive act.

My favorite poem, though, is "To the Foot From It's Child" by Pablo Neruda. I love it's message.

Gavin said...

I can't wait to read what you think of Beloved.

Vasilly said...

Thanks, Nymeth, for the welcome back! I loved Cummings when I was in high school. I have to read Bryon and the Brownings this semester for my English class. I love Bryon!

Priscilla: I'm putting your authors on my list to read. I haven't read any of them before.

Scrapgirl: Thanks!

Christina: I like your view on poetry. I take it for granted that it's so personal.

Gavin: I'm putting your authors on my list also. I love Neruda and used to walk around with his 100 Sonnets in my backpack. I can't wait to read Beloved.

Iliana said...

This collection sounds amazing. I need to add it to my list. I love poetry and try to read a bit here and there. One of my favorite poets is Billy Collins. I think his poetry is accessible and just so readable.