Thursday, April 9, 2009


Yesterday's daily email from the Academy of American Poets seems to be written just for this poetry week at The Creamery. In it, they shared Pamela Spiro Wagner's piece, How to Read a Poem. It's lovely.

How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don't even notice,
close this manual.

I want to tell you how much poetry means to me - how it holds a line directly to my soul, can speak to me when nothing else can. I want to tell you how I consume poetry like chocolate chip cookies or vitamins or tall glasses of water. I want to tell you that poetry is misunderstood. That it is deeper and easier than anyone supposes. I want to tell you that poetry can calm and quiet and excite and please and anger and irritate----

I want to tell you about poetry. But to do so without poetry wouldn't be right. I will offer Ms. Wagner's line instead:
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Comments are still open for your own poetic efforts here. You might just want to visit to read the offerings already there. They are FANTASTIC. The random winner will be picked end-of-day Sunday to receive a care package (chocolate? jelly beans? a batch of my chocolate chip cookies? alice's favorite honey bunny grahams? a little bit of each?) from one Whimsy. Happy poem-writing!


Spadoman said...

In the Native American traditional teachings, it has been said that every word, every thought, is a prayer. The simplest is the utterance of two words, Thank You.

When I read this, I thought the same of poetry. Every word we speak, or think, is a poem. After all, these words and thoughts are life. They are living. For bad or good or evil or praise, to hurt or to help or to entertain. How they are articulated may not be in a form recognized by experts, but if you listen, you can find a story, a poem, from what people say, write or even think.

Your name on this blog tells a story and is poetic. Think about it.

Peace to all

Spadoman said...
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Spadoman said...
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Spadoman said...
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Spadoman said...

Sorry, my malfunction. Blogger gave me info that told me my comment wasn't there, so I clicked away like a madman and now you have multiples. Please delete all but one.

Whimsy said...

No worries on the malfunction junction. I like thinking about someone clicking away like a madman. Makes me think that this little blog is something exciting! About your comment: so lovely. Reminds me to be careful with my words, they are uttered sometimes without thought, and are collected in ears that hold them dearly.

Now look at that: poetry is infecting the every day. Love it.

angelalois said...

wow, those honey bunnies are a hit! they're all over the blog!