Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book Five: Anthologus Majorus

So I've been trying to decide on an anthology to end my little series of recommendations that people NOT intimate with the art of poetry should try. I keep coming back to Poetry 180, not necessarily because it's a great collection (it's pretty good), but because it seems to be the book most consistent with my purpose: To expose people who "like poetry but don't always get it" (the excuse I hear most often) to good work of a style or set of styles that they can appreciate at two levels: the first, sheer entertainment; the second, the emergence of the details of craft.

A poem like Gouge, Adze, Rasp, Hammer is first an interesting read, next a good springboard to talk about concretness of language. Cartoon Physics, Part 1 is a poem almost anyone can inhabit, but it's also a great vehicle to talk about how unique connection and observation is at the center of all good poems. The exposure to form is purposeful and obvious (to a poet), but it is not intimidating or didactic. It's not the reason most people stop reading poetry as high school sophomores.

180 More has better poems, I think, but they're smirkier. There are more inside jokes, more poems for poets to share with each other. The uninitiated can go from 180 to More, but I don't see More hooking them in the same way.

Looking back over my list, I'm satisfied that my recommendations are what I set out for them to be - good poems in collections that hang together well that kick open doors and encourage people to walk through them. I hope you approve.

Next up: had a short exchange with Jeff about (how I perceive) a similarity in attacking technical work and poetic work. I think that to say the two are somewhat dissimilar is fair. But to say that the two attacks share neither strategy nor tactics does disservice to both writing process and engineering innovation. I think I can sway you.

However, I don't think you, oh my 6 loyal readers, are disposed to that argument just yet. So next up is a transition point: Why writing good poetry is like playing chess well.

Anyone want to try to get in front of me on this one?


Anonymous said...

Hey, David, I know those great poems by Chris and Nick. Yesterday's (Sunday, Jan 28) Verse Daily poem was great for its use of grammar to speak against war. I'm back from the dead--computer woes--and believe that I will post twice a month on my sweet blog.

Anonymous said...

Wait, no, it's today's poem on Verse Daily. I read it after hours last night. Monday's poem.