Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poet's Choice. Conclusion.

Editors: Paul Engle and Joseph Langland. New York: Time Incorporated. 1962.

Why read it? First the poem. Then the poet’s comment on why it is the favorite poem. The explanation is often as cryptic as the poem. The poets offer comments on the nature of poetry, how the poems originated and the many different reasons that they have chosen that particular poem as the favorite. They also write a great deal in a few words about the process of writing poetry. That alone is reason for the interested reader to become involved.

Sample Quotes and Ideas:

Alastair Reid: “…but I do know that whenever I happen to read it over, I re-enter the moment most vividly, as more than a memory.” p. 241.

Richard Eberhart: “I felt I know and possessed, that is, experienced all possible relationships between the small squirrel, myself as a slightly larger animal, and the immense idea of God. I was conscious of fate and time.” p. 59.

William H. Matchett: “ ‘Water Ouzel’ is an affirmation, a discovery of joy at the core of things, in spite of appearances and limitations. After the poem had been around for a while, I began to fear that it might be soft: it was not the whole story. Therefore, I undertook ‘The Petrel,’ a complementary discovery of evil at the core of things. I don’t understand either the goodness or the evil, but they are both there.” p. 216.

Elizabeth Jennings: “This poem is about power or, more precisely, about the power which lies behind energy held in check…the enormous power of controlled strength….” p. 236.

Phyllis Webb: “What are we whole or beautiful or good for/but to be absolutely broken?” p. 265.

Thom Gunn: “The title [‘My Sad Captains’], part of a line in Antony and Cleopatra….” p. 279.

Comment: This book puts the reader inside the minds of poets. The experience of writing poetry is rich and poets write poems for many different reasons. This book, Poet’s Choice, comes close to being one of my favorites. I would never want to lose it. RayS.

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