The other night a group of women from the university got together at a local bookstore to choose some books to read and discuss together. Most of us had gotten together once before to discuss a book we'd chosen and had a grand time of it.
We met, then split up to wander about. After a while, we got back together at a table and laid out our suggestions. Then we talked a bit about each, and chose some. My suggestion was Octavia Butler's Kindred. We chatted and enthused over books, and came up with a few for the summer, and planned some days to meet, too.
While I was looking over books, I recalled one of my very favorite poems by a poet who's not actually dead yet. I'd run across it in some anthology for an Intro to Lit course at some point, taught it, enjoyed it. And then I lost track of the anthology, and couldn't find the poem again. But I remembered the poet's name, and then had the great good luck to actually find the book of poetry with the poem I was after! So I bought it. (Having a disposable income to buy books still sort of shocks and elates me.)
I love this poem because it seems almost medieval in having a deeply religious sense along with intense irreverence. But maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to hear what other folks think, and especially if you've had experience teaching it.
Sharon Olds - "The Pope's Penis"
It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate
clapper at the center of a bell.
It moves when he moves, a ghostly fish in a
halo of silver seaweed, the hair
swaying in the dark and the heat--and at night,
while his eyes sleep, it stands up
in praise of God.
(Olds, Sharon. "The Pope's Penis." The Gold Cell. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. 19.)
Go buy the book! You know you want to! (Her poetry's GREAT!)