Sunday, June 12, 2005

Intro to Poetry: The Mix Tape

Steve set it up this way:

You've just met someone you think is special. They're smart, but they don't really read poetry. However, because you're who you are, they want to learn more about poetry. To get them started, you must create a "poetry mix tape" of 10 poems as a starting point for their reading.

I tried not to think too much about rules, to select 10 poems and see what rules seemed to have emerged. Here are 10 poems I would hand to someone interested in learning about poetry:

untitled ("won't you celebrate with me"), Lucille Clifton (scroll to the end)
"God Gives Faith to Baseball Fans", Edwin Romond
"After I Read Sandy Zulauf's Across the Bar, Victoria Takes Me Skiing", BJ Ward
“Across the Bar”, Sander Zulauf
"Bachelor Song", Douglas Goetsch
"My Daughter at 14: Christmas Dance, 1981", Maria Mazziotti Gillan
"The Word Kite", Tina Kelley
"For May is the Month of Our Mother", Cat Doty
"Messiah, Christmas Portions", Mark Doty
"Club", Coleman Barks

Interestingly, this didn't turn out to be a list of "poems I wish I'd written". I started to list out what I thought were my biases and intents, but the bottom line is these are contemporary poems that strike empathy with the reader, take great playful joy with language (even, some of them, to express despair), and can be talked about on several levels: for their story, for their individual poetic craft, and as gateways to greater body of work of the authors. One bias I should make clear: I only considered poems by poets whose work I felt I knew fairly well, well enough to intelligently introduce a new reader to.

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