Poem Tryouts: We Read Poems, Too

15 Jul

7:18 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the sound of the computer fan [I, too, will be glad to get back to my music]

Hello, all. Halfway through the summer, I hope we are all surviving. I thought you might like something a little different, this week. I want you to consider some of your favourite poems by other people. They can be contemporary, or classic(al), the poets alive, or dead. Pick the one that you love enough to share with other people and post it for us to read.

For those who are saying, ‘But, I want to write something,’ you can write a mirror poem to the one you are sharing, or a response poem. Or, talk about what it is you love about the poem. My favourites move around, but there are a few that stay, such as Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, which I love purely for the sound. I always read it aloud. Then there is James Wright’s:

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s
Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadows.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
the cowbells follow one another
into the distance of the afternoon.
To my right, In a field of sunlight between pines,
two droppings of last year’s horses
blaze up in golden stones.
I lean back, as evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for a home.
I have wasted my life.

The poem is about as summery as imagery gets [no, that is not a requirement]. I love the feel of the poem, as I read it. So, start thinking and let us have your favourites, to while away a pleasant afternoon.

I have hopes of getting to last week’s poems, but no guarantees that I can comment. I shall endeavour. Meanwhile, I shall see you next Tuesday when we will investigate forms. That’s right, I said forms. Now stop groaning. I’ll give you a couple of places to look. The Academy of American Poets gives a list with a brief definition. You can pick a couple and Google them; or, Robert Lee Brewer, of Writer’s Digest, has a list and if you click on the link, you will be taken to a ‘how to’ page. Oh, and you must pick a form you have not tried.

Happy reading and writing, everyone.


Posted by on 15/07/2014 in exercises, poetry, Summer


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18 responses to “Poem Tryouts: We Read Poems, Too

  1. b_young

    15/07/2014 at 10:31 am

    All this gadding about…Where will you be when you’re finally “home”?

    Well, due to copywrite (which I would subvert if I had a copy to subvert with) I can’t post my favorite poem  “I’ll Take the High Road Commission” by Ogden Nash. It’s one of the first THINGS that delighted me, intellectually. The one that concerns THIS SIGN

    My second-favorite, which nudges past Pied Beauty and Poem in October  by a hair-trigger spring is
    Naming of Parts


    15/07/2014 at 11:37 am

    I had a collection on my (now defunct) computer called Other People’s poems, most of which are internet friends. But my favourite changes with the wind. I’ll post one from a new-ish book, which I like because it feels real, unpretentious and accessible, And because it reminds me of my Grandma.

    The Wife of ’55 (the title poem of the collection, by Martin Newell)

    History forgets her now
    the wife of ‘Fifty-five
    the tea upon the table
    she’d struggle to contrive
    a plate of bread and butter
    some pilchards of some Spam
    they asked if she was happy
    she’d sigh and say “I am.”

    A woman’s work, they told her
    the totems said it all
    the copper-stick, the mangle
    a clothes horse in the hall
    the polish and the soda
    a bunker for the coal
    a wireless for the soundtrack
    the garden for her soul

    “Waste bread, you’ll live to want it.”
    her mother used to say
    the Sunday joint, the dripping,
    she’d use another day
    the bones for broth or stockpot
    the scraps for dog or birds
    it wasn’t called recycling
    or other fancy words.

    A perm on Friday evening,
    some powder on her face
    when Saturday was tipsy
    and husband might give chase
    a comma in her sentence
    when time itself stood still
    if history forgets her
    the children never will.

    • georgeplace2013

      21/07/2014 at 6:57 am

      Ah, I recognize this woman, too. I love that third and fourth stanza.

  3. Carol Carlisle

    15/07/2014 at 1:24 pm

    When I saw the assignment, I just went to find mine without looking at what you chose. James Wright’s Blessing…wonder if the droppings are from the same ponies…Yours is in in my top ten for sure along with many of Mary Oliver’s
    Happy Tuesday

    • georgeplace2013

      21/07/2014 at 7:01 am

      Beautiful. That conveys so much emotion. I feel I was right there in that field. Thanks for posting this, I love it.

  4. barbcrary

    15/07/2014 at 2:02 pm

    I can’t say that I have a very favorite, but at the moment I’m taken with Todd Boss’s poem, “Bravery” found here: I was unfamiliar with his work until Carol Stephen, another Oulipost contributor, gave me his name in one of those, “fill Facebook with poetry” challenges a while back. Boss is a writer who likes to pare things down, but this is a bit more full of images and resonance for me.

    • georgeplace2013

      21/07/2014 at 7:06 am

      I love getting to know new to me poets. I’m glad Margo asked us to share one of our favs. I enjoyed this poem.

  5. Hannah Gosselin

    15/07/2014 at 8:37 pm

    Excellent!! I’m here late…how’d that happen? A whole day whiled away…sigh. Putting my thinking cap on.

    Your share is delightful!


  6. b_young

    16/07/2014 at 10:52 am

    Hokay, This is my distorted mirror held up to Naming of Parts, a revision of cooking with your great-grandmother’s poems

  7. georgeplace2013

    21/07/2014 at 6:45 am

    So many to chose from…but this is one that always comes to mind.

    LIFE’S RAINBOW, by Sheila Banani

    Beginnings are lacquer red
    fired hard in the kiln
    of hot hope;

    Middles, copper yellow
    in sunshine,
    sometimes oxidize green
    with tears; but

    Endings are always indigo
    before we step
    on the other shore.

    Published in WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE, ed. Sandra Martz
    Papier-Mache Press, 1987, p. 181


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