Help Me Find Poets

When I was writing technical articles regularly, my blog was an invaluable tool. I could float ideas to a global audience and get great feedback that would help shape my thoughts before my writing went to press and international distribution. Given I have enjoyed dialog with a number of readers and writers whose poetic sensibilities seem similar to my own (Nick, Pearl, Michael, Collin, Carol and Jenni just to name a few), and given Pandora For Poetry doesn’t exist yet, I thought I might likewise solicit feedback on part of my reading list for my upcoming semester at Pacific. Here’s what I have so far:

  • B.H. Fairchild, Early Occult Memory Systems…
  • Robert Wrigley, In The Bank Of Beautiful Sins
  • Gregory Orr, Concerning the Book that is the Body…
  • Renate Wood, The Patience Of Ice
  • Li-Young Lee, The Winged Seed
  • Louise Glück, Ararat
  • Dorianne Laux, What We Carry
  • Joseph Millar, Fortune
  • Joan Aleshire, This Far

As well as a number of books (at least one each) from faculty members with whose work I am less familiar. I strongly suspect I will really like those books as well, but the ones above are an even stronger suspicion based on previous experience with the author.

So, given that list, what else would you recommend? Or do you think some other book by one of the above authors is stronger, or more in line with the rest? Or, if you’ve been following my blog for awhile and think you know what I like, what else might you recommend that has nothing to do with the above list, but still is something you think would inform my study of poetry? Or what do you like, that doesn’t have anything to do with what I might like, that you still think I just have to read?

Poetry As Survival

“I must create a system, or be enslav’d by another man’s”
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”

What can I say about this book? It has been a life raft for me. I resonated with Orr’s sentiments from the very first page, and have unfolded in this book a beautiful articulation of what I have been experiencing lately in my relationship to art. Orr speaks with the authority of one who has observed himself keenly in the process of living and writing. He draws equally on research, insight, and experience to illuminate the transformative power of poetry. In the first half he lays out his theories, in the second he traces connections through Wordsworth, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, and Wilfred Owen.

Where I was once scoffingly skeptical of the notion of “art therapy”, I now have a renewed understanding of the purpose and power of poetry. To the commenter on the Books, Inq. blog who hopes, “the simple stuff by humans does survive, and continues to reach people,” I can say that Orr illustrates a key facet of the power and importance of this “simple stuff by humans” — the power to heal not only the author but to communicate a more fully integrated experience of life to the reader as well. As long as we will be struggling with order and disorder, trauma and hope, we will continue to make meaningful art. Thanks to Sarah for nudging me toward this book. It is a gem.

Synchronicity and Survival

Gregory Orr’s Poetry As Survival arrived today. Given what I’ve been musing about lately, I was pleasantly surprised by the opening paragraph of the book:

As a poet, I’ve always hated the fact that poetry often intimidates people. Many people I know feel that poetry is a test they can only pass if they are smart enough or sensitive enough, and most fear they will fail. Many refuse the test altogether — never read poetry — for fear of failure. Somehow something has gone wrong with poetry in our culture. We have lost touch with its value and purpose, and in doing so, we have lost contact with essential aspects of our own emotional and spiritual lives.

I have a feeling I’m going to really like this book.