I think I’m getting to like poetry

I’ve never been a huge poetry fan. At school it was Robert Louis Stevenson and the Lady of Shallot. Oh there was some Burns thrown in for good measure and there must have been some in Secondary school but whatever they were, they’ve long gone. I loved reading as a child but managed to get an English teacher who almost put me off for life. (Mrs Rozga, why did I end up in your class every year of secondary school?)

I think my problems with poetry stems from having to work at it. And I am at heart a lazy old sod. So I glance at some cleverly crafted words in wiggly waggly shapes and I give up almost immediately. And why do some of them not use punctuation  What’s that all about?  And then there are the poems where the line continues on the next line… why not put it all in one line? You read it as if it is, so why not write it that way? Sometimes it is just too clever for me and I can’t be bothered working it out.

I did try writing some poetry when I was much younger and full of angst. There was one called Mother’s Little Helpers, I seem to remember, and one on The Fireworks which I couldn’t attend because I didn’t have a babysitter. You’ll see there was a theme going on there.

My eldest son writes lots of poetry. Some have even been published in obscure journals. They are pretty heavy, mind you. And not really suitable for reprinting here on such a delicate blog. I feel they should come with a health warning.

However, of late I have found myself lingering on the occasional poem and sometimes even smiling. I quite like some by Liz Lochead and Carol Ann Duffy. Mrs Icarus doesn’t fail to make me grin, for example.

Today I came across this one and I rather like it. Never heard of Billy Collins, the author, but I might look for some more. I see he was an American Poet Laureate from 2001-2003.

Man in Space

All you have to do is listen to the way a man
sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people
and notice how intent he is on making his point
even though her lower lip is beginning to quiver,

and you will know why the women in science
fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own
are not pictured making a salad or reading a magazine
when the men from earth arrive in their rocket,

why they are always standing in a semicircle
with their arms folded, their bare legs set apart,
their breasts protected by hard metal disks.

6 thoughts on “I think I’m getting to like poetry

  1. Hurrah! I didn’t know that one either – made me smile. AND it’s full of enjambement, which is the name for the run-on (non-grammetric) lines, so it obviously doesn’t get in the way if you just let it flow … but I’ll not start a poetry lesson here! (Wouldn’t dare)

  2. Hooray! I didn’t know him, either..so, thank you for an introduction.
    and Hooray @Chris for the offer!
    All I can add about the funny lines and punctuation thingy is that sometimes it helps a reader to focus on a small part of a meaning, which would be swamped if it was written all in one line. There is a cadence to move on to the next thought/image.

    And sometimes (like T.S.Eliot) it’s because there is a second reference (maybe to a different piece of writing) we go on picking up loads more reference points as we get older, read more, find echoes…

  3. Oh dear, and here in our ain wee patch we are blessed with more brilliant women writing poetry than ever before. I urge you to try Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay, and, my favourite, Kathleen Jamie (whose book of prose pieces, ‘Findings’, is also superb). Onwards and upwards!

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