Last year for Poetry Month our local library asked some of us to gather to read favorite poems, which made for a most civilized evening. We wanted to do it again, but personal schedules conflicted with the library’s and town meeting. “Maybe we should wait until next year,” I suggested over our email exchanges. Marianne wrote, “I don’t want to wait a year. Tom and I will have it at our house.”
So she set out tea, and I brought banana bread. Seven of us read poems by Marianne Moore, Billy Collins, Dante, Coleridge, Noel Coward, Wislawa Szymborska, and several from Garrison Keiller’s Good Poems. We talked a bit about what we read and poetry in general with short related tangents. Tom mentioned his mother coming from Wales, and how he was stationed for army training there during WWII, and how he’s thought “five thousand times how lucky I was to land there, and how people were touched by the American chap who knew about five Welsh phrases.” The room filled with the gratitude of his memory, and our pleasure in reading together.
Yesterday in front of the post office I saw another neighbor who couldn’t make it to the gathering. He asked me what I’d read, and when I replied “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur, he said he’d just thought of a favorite poem by him while passing a line of laundry hung to dry. Here’s a video of Richard Wilbur reading Love Calls us to the Things of this World.
Richard Wilbur says the poem was inspired by a line from Saint Augustine. He mentions he likes how he managed to use the word “hunks” in the poem, though out of keeping with other words there, “which is precisely why I like it.” And he mentions another poem in which he used the word “reinforced concrete, without that word sinking that particular poem.” It’s a reminder of how we like unity in a poem, but also surprise. A favorite poetry writing prompt is to find or be handed three random or varied words and try to fit them into a poem. This can stretch the mind to a triangle of directions, with something new found in the corners.
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