Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blogging about poetry blogging

I don't know where the Friday poetry blogging thing got its start; I could probably try to follow it back, but I'm just guessing Jo(e) had something to do with it. (Anyone know off hand?)

I do know that I really like Friday poetry blogging, though. For me, poetry is like really good graphic art. When I go to a big city, and have the chance to go to a museum, I sometimes do. I used to have memberships when I lived near one big city or another. The advantage for me of the membership was that I could go in, spend a half an hour or 45 minutes really looking at one or two pictures, and then leave.

There's a certain Monet I've spent a fair bit of time with, and some Japanese pottery in celadon green. I really got to know those pieces, and enjoyed them in a new way. I'm sort of slow about some things, so it really helped when I went to museums with an artist friend who could explicate works for me, help me see the purples and greens in the "skin" of a portrait, or when I went after taking an art history class and a ceramics throwing class, and could think about how the pieces were put together and how they worked on a deeper level.

Alas, though, I don't make time in every day to visit a piece of art for a half an hour, even. (I make time for other things that are more important to me.)

If I go to a new museum now, I fight the urge to try to "see" all the pieces or areas. I've learned about myself that I can't focus in a museum for more than a couple hours, and after that I just don't enjoy it. But if I relax and just visit a couple pieces over the course of two hours, I feel very good about my experience. More focused and with a fuller sense of why I care about those couple of pieces.

Poetry's the same way for me. With the exception of narrative poetry (Paradise Lost, a Canterbury Tale, The Rape of Lucrece) or drama in verse, I rarely sit down to read poetry for a long time. I don't devour books of poetry.

So when I teach poetry, I tend to have students only read a poem or two per session, and then really take time to work through that poem a lot. I love having students read a poem several times aloud, as a group or on their own. When you start, they sound all chanty, but once they get used to it, they really begin to feel the poem in their mouths and go at their own speed, to listen to the ways the sentences and lines are put together and let that drive their speech.

Friday poetry blogging is perfect for my style of poetry reading. I take some time to think of poems I enjoy and that I'm in the mood for, reread some aloud, and find my way to my choice for the week.

Then I look around for poems other people have posted, and give several a quick read through until I find one I want to sit down with for a bit longer.

And in the process, I learn something about a poem (especially since some other people post poetry by poets who haven't been dead for 300+ years! Gosh!) or I get an introduction to a writer.

That once a week, I can take time to sit and enjoy a poem, especially on a Friday afternoon, after all my classes are taught for the week, while I'm winding down a bit.

Thanks to all the other Friday poetry bloggers who are opening my eyes to new (for me) poets. I really like when you say a few words about why you chose the poem. Here's a GREAT example from Heo Cwaeth yesterday. This poem just came alive for me when I read what she had to say about it, and spent some time with the poem, mulling. I bet it would be even better if I were good at Old English! (Don't worry, Heo Cwaeth gives us a translation.)

To the blogger who came up with the idea, a bigger thanks!


  1. I love poetry, don't always understand it, but love it. I also love art and know nothing about it. But, there is a cowboy museum in Oklahoma City and my husband, being a big fan of westerns, and I went. I walked independent of Mr. Zelda mostly because he wanted to look at the guns and arrows and things like that, but what I found was a Oregon Trail painting drawn by a man who was actually on the trail and as he went along, he painted it and as I sat there looking at this huge, and it was huge, relic I actually felt the painting. It was the first time that art really meant anything to me. Then, I saw, in the same museum, a painting of a famous chief and his family. The woman's face was beautiful and I tried to buy the painting but it was a no go. I would say the cowboy museum isn't about cowboys as much as it is about history and is definitely worth the little donation to go through it.

  2. It was jo(e), of course.... You are inspiring me to pick up again with the friday poetry blogging

  3. Thanks, Jean :)

    Zelda1, I feel the same way about graphic arts! It helps me so much to learn from someone who makes art, just as I've learned tons from talking to poets about their work.

    Sarah, It WOULD be Jo(e) having a good idea, wouldn't it! You should pick it back up!

  4. Yeah, Bardiac -- the Friday poetry blogging thing did start over on my blog. But it's my students, really, who get the credit. They came up with the idea of me teaching prose on Mondays and Wednesdays, and putting poetry on Fridays so that we would do the poetry a little at a time instead of in one big chunk during the semester. So I had Friday Poetry days in my classroom all semester and it spread to the blogs ....

  5. I'm glad you did, Jo(e)!