Friday, May 26, 2006

Book club and Friday poetry blogging

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!)


  1. Anonymous9:18 AM

    What an EXCELLENT poem! I love it! (It does feel kind of medieval, in a way.)

  2. Awesome. Reminds me of that medieval lyric, "Kyrieleyson".

  3. I love Sharon Olds. My favorite living poet, I think. I love how her poems, every one of them, have that moment, somewhere in each one, that knocks you breathless.

  4. I'm so glad you folks like this one. Delagar's right that it knocks me breathless.

    Note to self: more Sharon Olds for Friday poetry blogging!