Saturday, November 14, 2009

I don't like poetry

For the most part, this is true. To me most poems are, well, too uppity. Too full of themselves. Too elitist. Give me a good paragraph, short story, novel anytime over a poem.

I think I got off on the wrong foot with poetry. I blame Penny Swanum's eleventh grade creative writing class. I took it because I loved to write stories. It didn't occur to me that she would make us write poetry too.

She did. All the other kids wrote poems about serious, meaningful stuff. Stuff about their teenage angst-filled lives.

I wrote poems about how much I hated poetry.

To give Ms. Swanum credit, she didn't frown on my writings. In fact, she critiqued my poems just like she critiqued everyone elses. Which, in some ways, made me even more disgruntled.

Anyway. As I said before, I think I got off on the wrong foot with poetry. I find myself, every once in awhile, more frequently as the years go by, reading a poem I like. Maybe all this time, all this time I've been disliking poetry, I just haven't been reading the right stuff. Somehow, I've been missing out on all the really good poetry.

Like a poem my blogging/cow forum friend Liz shared recently. It goes like this.


She Dreamed of Cows
by Norah Pollard

I knew a woman who washed her hair and bathed
her body and put on the nightgown she'd worn
as a bride and lay down with a .38 in her right hand.
Before she did the thing, she went over her life.
She started at the beginning and recalled everything—
all the shame, sorrow, regret and loss.
This took her a long time into the night
and a long time crying out in rage and grief and disbelief—
until sleep captured her and bore her down.

She dreamed of a green pasture and a green oak tree.
She dreamed of cows. She dreamed she stood
under the tree and the brown and white cows
came slowly up from the pond and stood near her.
Some butted her gently and they licked her bare arms
with their great coarse drooling tongues. Their eyes, wet as
shining water, regarded her. They came closer and began to
press their warm flanks against her, and as they pressed
an almost unendurable joy came over her and
lifted her like a warm wind and she could fly.
She flew over the tree and she flew over the field and
she flew with the cows.

When the woman woke, she rose and went to the mirror.
She looked a long time at her living self.
Then she went down to the kitchen which the sun had made all
yellow, and she made tea. She drank it at the table, slowly,
all the while touching her arms where the cows had licked.

"She Dreamed of Cows" by Norah Pollard, from Death & Rapture in the Animal Kingdom. © Antrim House, 2009.


Erin said...

I am like you when it comes to poetry! So much of it seems so self-important, lol. This one was good, though! And how true is it of teenage angst being good fodder for poetry, lol

Mama Pea said...

Maybe Erin, you and I should form an Anti-Poetry Society.

Like you, I got stuck in an English class that was heavy on poetry. This was in college and fortunately the professor was very good, and I found one poet I liked: Edna St. Vincent Millay. I "get" her poems, and will still read her works.

The "cow" poem did speak to me. (Okay, so maybe ALL poetry is not bad.) Thanks for sharing.

Jo said...

Hi Erin! Hope you are safe and well after the wicked weather our your way.

Hey Mama Pea -- I'll have to look up Edna St. Vincent Millay. Thanks for the tip.

My hubby, who also doesn't go out of his way to read a poem, read the cow poem and said to me, "I don't hate it." That's about as good a praise as one could hope for!

Karen said...

Hahahahaha!!! I love Simon's comment! I still find it weird to read a poem that doesn't rhyme!!! It's more like a bunch of short sentences in a paragraph...not a poem at all. And lots of words rhyme with "cow"! Howcome the author couldn't come up with lines of "the fat red sow" or "it stepped on my foot and I said "Ow!"? Lots of lost opportunities!

Jo said...

Karen, you're a hoot!!