01 November 2007

A bit on poetry

I received an ARC of Adrienne Rich's new book of poetry, Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth in the mail yesterday. (ARC courtesy of LibraryThing). At the end of a long day, it was a welcomed delivery sitting amongst mailings for local elections and housewares sales. I immediately ripped open the package so I could hold the book in my hands.

It is a slim volume, containing only 30 poems. I flipped through the book quickly, not intending to read it before dinner, picking up scattered images here and there. Later in the evening, I returned to read more concentratedly. It struck me how odd it is that 30 poems sparsely covering a mere 100-odd pages can be so dense. How reading poetry can bend your mind at sharp right angles that sometimes poke, sometimes tingle your synapses.

I have to sample poems slowly. I'll revisit this book several times over the next few weeks. Gradually, more and more of the images will settle in my thoughts and I'll begin to make sense of these poems. I'll read most of them a few times, some of them many times. There may be one or two that I won't be able to put out of my mind for days. Eventually, through reading, the poems will reveal themselves to me. Or will force me to recognize something about the world and myself that I didn't perceive previously.

That's how I've thought about reading poetry for years. So I had to smile when I read this quote in the preface to Rich's book:

Poetry isn't easy to come by. You have to write it like you owe a debt to the world. In that way poetry is how the world comes to be in you. -- Alan Davies

It's like that for the poetry reader as well. Reading poetry is how the world comes to be in you.

I'll likely write more about this volume later. Or maybe I'll post something about my favorite poem by Adrienne Rich: Storm Warnings, which I first read in college many years ago. But, for now I'll leave you with two snippets from Rich's work:

From Storm Warnings

Weather abroad
And weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.

and these lines from the poem Calibrations contained in Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth,

A poem with calipers to hold a heart
so it will want to go on beating

A poem with calipers to hold a heart. Isn't that a beautiful image?

1 comment:

bloglily said...

I do so like Adrienne Rich's work. I saw her read once in Berkeley and it was a revelation -- she's so smart, and such a good reader and, of course, a wonderful poet. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about these thirty poems.