Pearl tagged me so on this. I guess if we’re playing, I’ll pass the ball to rob, Marcus and Heather. A list of who has participated is here:
The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was… an old Victorian nursery rhyme by William Brighty Rands my father recited, aimed at improving a child’s self discipline. Also in about grade 7, we were given the Wordsworth poem, The Daffodils.
I remember feeling physically ill when I read this poem. It was so saccharine and sickly sweet. I thought then and there that if this is poetry, it isn't something that interests me. It wasn't until university when I read Les Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire and poems by Rimbaud that poetry caught fire for me.
I was forced to memorize numerous poems in school and…
Actually I was never forced to memorise poems in English per se. I remember having to learn a few soliloquies from Shakespeare’s plays and that always reduced me to tears. I ended up learning a lot of old chestnuts from my father, but most of that has been eliminated from my memory, thank the heavens.
In high school French, I had to learn Le Corbeau et Le Renard, one of La Fontaine’s fables, and I loved that. I’ve always been able to memorise French better than English.
I read poetry because…I like the originality and freshness of a good poem. I’m really really bored with all the nature poems and most of the love poems out there that seem to chew up, swallow and then regurgitate old stuff. Thank heavens for folks like Fred Wah.
A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is… Gwendolyn MacEwen’s The Red Bird You Wait For. She had such a command of language and her ability to create mesmerizing symbols was incredible.
I write poetry, but… I’m not sure what I write is poetry or that I want it to be called that at all these days. I’m going thru a what is that word…watershed? experience where I’ve realized the word “poem” messes me up. If I try to write something called a poem, I end up creating hamhanded syntax and precious words and it’s all so unnatural and forced.
This is the kind of stuff I’ve been doing lately and I can’t call it poetry. People like Nathalie Stephens impress me because they blend poetry and prose and don’t worry about what they call it. I’m also enamoured of visual poetry and perhaps will explore that more. There are just so many colours in our palates, why can’t we use more than just words on a page, left justified and capitalized?
My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature because… when I read poetry I can become overwhelmed by the strength of the language and imagery at times, so that I have to stop. Sometimes I have to write the poem out to really enjoy it. Sometimes I have to read it out loud over and over again. I guess poetry makes me stop.
I find poetry… to be a word that causes odd reactions. People get defensive when you use the word. They say poetry was better in previous eras and trot out some poem they were made to memorise in the 1800s. Then they say…now that was poetry. So just saying I write it brings out a lot of sneers and derision from the universe. Kind of like the attitude about my writing erotica.
The last time I heard poetry was… last night in rob’s workshop (which you should take in the new year, by the way). Marcus’ “Carbon Dating v3” was spectacular.
I think poetry is like …a gift for those with open minds.