So after five days of poetry I’m asked to think about which poets inspire me or I would recommend. Below is a list of poets in order that they popped into my mind. My poetry reading goals for the moment are at the bottom.
John Keats: British, 1795-1821
Favorite: La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Why I like it: The images of La Belle Dame in poetry in art fascinated me. When I was younger I wanted to read everything Faerie related. But I like Keats’ vision better than Edmund Spencer’s “The Faerie Queene.”
Who should read Keats: Anyone who likes beautiful language and the romantic period poets, people who are interested in the elves in Lord of the Rings.
Dorothy Parker: American, I893-1967
Favorite: One Perfect Rose as just an example
Why I like Parker: I like her take on relationships. Untraditional poems in that she has a less romanticized more realistic take on love in traditional verse.
Who should read Parker: Anyone (but women may “sympathize” more) going through rough relationships or a break-up. Reading her poetry is like drinking a consoling cocktail with your been-around-the-block aunt who is ready to trash your ex or help you bury the body.
Langston Hughes: American, 1902-1967
Type of poems: Short poems that fill your heart with whatever he wants to pour in there.
Favorite: all of them
Who should read them: Everyone. Go now and read. I will wait here. Now. Has your world view shifted?
Oscar Wilde: Irish, 1851-1900
Favorite: Anything he wrote, poetry or prose. Dude can make me cry. His short stories always so beautiful and so heartbreaking.
Who should read them: People with a stone heart that needs melting; people who want an emotional experience. People wanting to wallow in post-break-up sadness and feel even sadder should read “The Happy Prince.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson: British, 1809-1902
Type of Poem: Blank Verse
Why I like it: I studied Classics so I love all the references to the mythological stories. Ulysses was the original ex-pat. The poem is about coming home after being away and growing old. The lack of shared changes between you and those back home can be hard to reconcile, particularly when those back home expect you to return to normal life as they see it. The last line, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” has become a motto for me.
Who Should Read Ulysses: I think soldiers who come back from war,, travelers and those welcoming loved ones who’ve been away. People who like Percy Jackson.
Basho: Japanese, 1644-1694
Type of poems: Haiku (lots of them)
Why I like it: Basho is haiku. Choosing Basho seems kind of too obvious, even cliche, but aside from beautiful poetry, he was an interesting man. There are MANY translations of his poems. Here is a link to his famous frog and pond haiku with the Japanese text, 31 translations (some by well-known poets) and some commentary on the language at the end.
Who should read Basho: anyone who wants to see where this whole haiku thing started; haiku lovers; haiku haters in order to be converted.
Ogden Nash American, 1902 – 1971
Type: Light verse and comic poems
Why I like it: Because life doesn’t always have to be serious.
Who should read it: People who like nonsense.
Celery, raw develops the jaw
But celery, stewed,
is more quietly chewed.
Gelett Burgess American 1866-1951
Why I like it: This is the first poem I memorized (the other being “London”, by William Blake 20 years later). The image of a purple cow is silly. This poem is likely responsible for the way I imagine things.
Who should read it: Everyone. The world needs more purple cows and people who think about them.
Purple Cow (1895)
I never saw a Purple Cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see one than be one.
Anonymous, date unknown—but let’s just say definitely before the ’70’s. 😉
Why I like it: The way my mom told it is one of my favorite memories of childhood. She told it to me every time I asked her. I think there are actions that go with this poem, too. It’s full of poetic devices, simile, rhyme, meter, onomatopoeia; a perfect poem for little minds.
Who should read it: Parents, people who work with little ones, little ones, anyone who likes a cute animal poem.
Up he goes
To the tree top!
Round and round,
Down he scampers
To the ground.
What a tail!
Tall as a feather
Broad as a sail!
Where’s his supper?
In the shell,
Out it fell.
Poetry Reading Goals for 2015
I think I have too many dudes as favorite poets. I’m going to start with exploring more Maya Angelou and start reading Carol Ann Duffy. From the little I know of Duffy, she seems to be really open to all types of poetry in whatever forms it’s taking in modern culture. I’m super curious about her ideas. I think I will agree with a lot of them.