Can I just revel for a minute in how much I am enjoying reading poetry – and being surrounded by readers and writers of poetry – is making me? I love poetry; I always have. Some of my earliest memories are of my father reading my poetry from the Childcraft books. I can still recite at least one of those poems, about a woman whose umbrella turns inside out.
In high school, I served on our school’s lit mag and wrote my fair share of crappy high school poetry. I also read poets voraciously – Ginsberg, Lindbergh, Berry, Dunn – so many poems. I loved modern poetry which broke all the rules. Of course, I didn’t really know the “rules” yet, so I couldn’t appreciate it like I did later. (Except Shakespeare’s sonnets, which I loved from day one.)
My first serious boyfriend was a Romantic. He adored Keats, and I still have a dog earred copy of Keats’ works, highlighted and written all over. From the boyfriend, and from Keats, I learned to really appreciate the forms of poetry, and the challenge of self expression within forms. While I will never be a classicist in my love of poetry, I do find myself drawn to structured expression very often.
Over the past few years, my love of poetry hasn’t waned, but my time spent seeking out new poetry had. I didn’t look for new writers or seek out poetry. My time in college – studying accounting – didn’t really feed my soul. I read a lot in my 20′s, but I didn’t read much poetry. I was kind of embarrassed by my teenage ardor for something so old fashioned and, well, hard to explain.
Then a few years ago, my husband and I attended the Southern Festival of Books in what would become an annual tradition. The festival includes many poets, and every year, I pretty much camp out in the rooms where the poet panels are. It felt like a homecoming of sorts. I worried at first, because I am not a writer, because I was so often burned in college when I would go to parties with English Major friends, and I would excitedly talk literature and someone would ask what I was studying and when I said, “accounting” the shutters would go up. But I found the poets to be friendly, and excited to talk about their work. I found that I could ask questions and get interesting, thoughtful answers. I found that my mind, starving for not only poetry, but for thoughtful conversation with people who read poetry, was nourished.
I really believe that we are living in a new, golden age of poetry in the US. There are so many amazing writers creating amazing work all the time. I have read 5 books of poetry, all published from 2011 through 2013 that have totally rocked my world. And my “to read” list grows all the time.