Tuesday, April 05, 2005

April is Poetry Month...

... and I feel like a philistine for admitting this, but I just don't get most poetry... I think it's lack of contact (I wish I had taken Helen Vendler's class in college [sigh]), but it might be lack of aptitude instead...

Take for instance these poems I got a few days ago from Knopf's Poem-a-Day promotion (I figured this was an easy way to get more poetry into my life). They are by Franz Wright, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

First poem:

My Place

     for Beth

Rain land, walnut blossoms raining
where I walk at sixteen

bright light in the north wind

Still sleeping bees at the grove's heart
(my heart's) till the sun
its "wake now"
kiss, the million
friendly gold huddlings
and burrowings of them hearing the shining
I hear, my only
cure for the loneliness I go through:


I believe that one day the distance between myself and God will disappear.

My reaction: Huh? I mean, I'm plenty familiar with loneliness, but still, I just don't get it. Is there someone out there who does and might enlighten me? Presumably this is good stuff, since it did get a Pulitzer prize (at least the judges --whoever they were-- liked it...).

Second poem:

On Earth

Ressurection of the little apple tree outside
my window, leaf-
light of late
in the April
called her eyes, forget
but how
How does one go
about dying?
Who on earth
is going to teach me—
The world is filled with people
who have never died

My reaction: This is more accessible to me, though I find it hard to reconcile the first part of the poem with the second. I guess I could connect them by saying spring = renewal, rebirth vs. death... I just don't get what the point is. Maybe it's my expectations. I suppose I do expect poetry to be meaningful, to delve into the essence of life and language. And this poem, while apparently about rebirth and the unfathomable nature of death, just leaves me shrugging.

Margaret's new(est) spring resolution: More poetry. This ignorance is driving me nuts!

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