After a year hiatus, "Poetry: Serious. Not That Serious" is back just in time for National Poetry Month.
Three Poems Before Easter: PT 1
April is the (cruel) month where we celebrate the first nuanced thaw from winter and, lovingly, our poetry. We here at Barnstorm are taking the opportunity to introduce ourselves, not just as readers of your poetry submissions, but also as writers ourselves. But how?
Do we recite to you the first prayers we learned as children? Or the states we’ve made love in? Should we share the first poem that shouted to the rafters of our heart? I think so.
For this week’s post, and as a reawakening of the poetry blog, we present to you three poems chosen by readers and editors of the poetry Barnstorm staff.
Welcome to Spring! Hurrah Hooray!
“Anniversary” by Louise Glück
"I said you could snuggle. That doesn’t mean
your cold feet all over my dick.
Someone should teach you how to act in bed.
What I think is you should
keep your extremities to yourself."
The first poem I ever read that really spoke to me was Glück's world-famous “Mock Orange,” as a junior in high school. Until that point, I'd had poems explained to me in terms of Valentine's Day cards and inspirational quotes on posters in the principal's office. I had no idea that poetry could be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and full of despair—for the writer and the reader. What a relieving realization! I fall in love with Glück's work every couple of years. Every time I discover a new poem of hers, my hair stands on end. That happened this past year reading "Anniversary"; it is my current favorite of Glück's. The precision, calmness of delivery, and willingness to make the reader feel some measure of discomfort are the things I love about her poetry, and “Anniversary” employs those elements perfectly!
“Late February” by Ted Kooser
"The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards"
Ted Kooser often gets accused of being a provincial sentimentalist (the criticisms are not without their grains of truth either), but there is much more to the work than that. He has long been one of my favorites and this poem is a particular joy for me. I have always felt that spring is more than just the flowers and rainbows treatment it often receives. For me, I've always loved that it seems to be all of the earth's life cycle wrastlin' with itself at one time. Kooser's "Late February" captures that strangeness and awesome beauty in spectacular fashion.
"God Is Born" by D.H. Lawrence
"The history of the cosmos
is the history of the struggle of becoming.
When the dim flux of unformed life
struggled, convulsed back and forth upon itself,
and broke at last into light and dark
came into existence as light,
came into existence as cold shadow
then every atom of the cosmos trembled with delight.
Behold, God is born!
He is bright light!"
This was one the first poems that really opened me up, and it's quite eerie to see its implications in my own work today, in terms of how I arrive at revelatory wisdom. The speaker unfolds this great mystery of the brilliant opening line through the measured and cathartic tone of a preacher. Coming back to the poem after a few years, I’m experiencing a nostalgia for the sermon of my childhood Sundays, mostly spent doodling pictures of Revelation on the pamphlets. Now my curiosity settles on energy. It seems more and more that we arrive at the pertinent facts of life with such speed that it’s hard to tell how you got there.