Monday, June 11, 2012

Hammock Book Reviews: How to Read Poetry

  To me, reading poetry is like eating dark chocolate.  You don't want to eat the whole bar at once, but you instead put little pieces in your mouth and let them slowly melt, savoring each little molecule of flavor.

  Nicole Walker is an assistant professor in the Dept. of English at NAU.   I've been savoring Nicole's book "This Noisy Egg" like pieces of fine chocolate.  She's a wonderful person, and hanging out with her makes you feel like you've downed a cup of triple espresso.

  Nicole and I talked about the best way to read poetry.  She agrees that it's something to be lingered over, and says it helps to read poems aloud, and sometimes even sing them. 

 Nicole is so fun, and so talented, that I was flattered when she got excited about my dorky little game, "poetry tarot."  You ask a question, and flip through the book with your eyes closed.  Oftentimes the page that you land on has some random, exciting connection to your query.  We came up with a few questions and then I flipped through "This Noisy Egg."  It told me some very helpful answers.

1.  Question:  What should I wear today?
     Answer:  Houndstooth
  (from "Picking St. Augustine's Cherries")
   "I wore houndstooth and called out Doctor,
    even though that's not your name,
                          can't you let me in?"

2.  Question:  Who should I love?
     Answer:  Very carefully...
  (from "The Unlikely Origin of the Species")
 "Darwin cites Bacon citing God
  that Man cannot search too far
  or too well in the book of God's Word
  and in the book of God's works
  or in the margins of good science."

3.  Question:  What do you recommend for dinner tonight?
     Answer:  Cabbage and gooseberries.
  (from "The Unlikely Origin of the Species")


  See how different the leaves of the cabbage are and how
  extremely alike the flowers; how unlike the flowers of the 
  heartsease are and how alike the leaves; how much the fruit of
  different kinds of gooseberries differ in size, colour, shape, and 
  harriness, [sic] and yet the flowers present very slight difference."

Poetry is meant to be both specific and universal.  Nicole says that she tries to make connections, but to make them "surprising connections."  I will try to emulate her, and make links from the page to my life--the more personal and unusual they are, the better.   And believe me, I will be wearing houndstooth and eating cabbage and gooseberries for dinner, all while searching far and well for love.

P.S.  One last question:
What will I be when I grow up?
Answer:  A trufflehunter!!
(from "Glasses")

"Turn your back on the door.
Invite them in.  Or offer them water.
They're coming in anyway.
Truffle hunters in their wooly hats
have to beat the pigs off the hundreds of dollars 
of mushroom.
Truffle hunters hae begun to trade their pigs
for dogs.  Dogs prefer to please their masters.
Pigs prefer to eat the raw bounty."

No comments:

Post a Comment