(A repost with modifications for World Poetry Day.)
Studying poetry in school felt like slow, merciless death. Those few weeks spent perusing the most insipid pap imaginable every year, tearing down the lines into rhyme, meter and all of the other technical detail, destroyed its power. I came away with the understanding that people in the ancient world were stuffy, insufferable boors. Why the fuck did people make such a fuss about this stuff? What was so great about it?
We were given tap water in safe spoonfuls, when there was a whole briny ocean out there to drink. We were restricted to a European reservation, with no idea that a whole world existed beyond our placid borders. Poetry had no meaning. It whispered in those dull rooms, while outside it shouted. And I never knew.
Caught the occasional glimpse, here and there. ee cummings and his brilliant Buffalo Bill. Ben Jonson’s superb The Noble Nature. Shakespeare’s dramatic and powerful Sonnet XXXV. Emily Dickenson’s deceptively simple I Took My Power in My Hand. But there were just a smattering. A taste of salt on my lips.
Then I discovered the wine dark sea, and set sail through the ancient world. [Read more…]