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Wednesday reading experience #22

Read a book or two of poetry. I recommend reading one anthology from cover to cover, for example one of the Norton or Oxford anthologies (or something shorter) and following it up with a book of poems by an author who is included in the anthology, preferably not a “collected works” or “best of” kind of book but an original cohesive publication, like William Blake’s Songs of Innocence (or Experience depending on your mood), Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portugese”, Langston Hughes’s The Dream Keeper and other poems, Silvia Plath’s Ariel, or Dorothy Parker’s Enough Rope, to name but a few.

If you find it hard to choose an anthology, think about what eras and authors you like in literature – e.g. if you like Shakespeare, you could try an anthology of Elizabethan poetry, if you like reading about the Jazz Age choose an anthology of that era, etc.

If your language is not English, choose similar works in your own language.

If you have never read poetry before, or have always found it boring, stick with it. You might be surprised at the variety of poetic forms, the colourful use of language and varied subjects – in spite what some seem to think, poetry is not all about larks and daffodils and romance.

How about this one, for example:

This Be the Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

This is verse one from a slightly longer poem by Philip Larkin. Not exactly love and roses, eh?


Dorte H said…
An excellent selection of poets that you suggest. As a teacher I usually pick and choose because I am looking for poems on a specific theme or period.
I like all these poets, however, and have used poems by all of them over the years, except for Dorothy Parker. And it is important for me to try to find something my students can relate to so they are not scared off poetry ever after.

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