I have been struggling to write this post for a week now. I really like reading poetry but I feel a little clueless as to how to talk about it! Here is my attempt.
I love Billy Collins’ poetry, so I can honestly say I was delighted to receive a digital copy for review consideration. Aimless Love is a collection of poems centered around love, poetry, and death or dying. From the first poem (“Reader”) to the last (a tribute to the victims of September 11), Collins has a casual but careful way of capturing life and love. (more…)
As I was glancing through my poetry books, pondering where to begin my Something in a Summer’s Day Poetry month, I found I shied away from the Victorians. I wanted the modern, frank, clear imagist poetry of William Carlos Williams. I recently posted on my other blog about the picture book about this author, A River of Words by Jen Bryant, a picture book about Williams’ life as a country doctor who could not stop writing. It was time to visit his poetry.
When I think of Williams, I immediately think of the clever irony in “This is Just to Say,” the poem about eating the plums from the ice box. I love the tone in that poem! It’s so real. I can picture the narrator of the poem eating those cool plums, and I feel just as jealous as the person to whom the narrator is speaking. I remember reading “The Red Wheelbarrow” in ninth grade. I did not understand it then, and I’m not sure I do now, but I love the colorful image it creates in my mind.
Some other poems I enjoyed included the following. In “The Poem and the Poet,” the narrator is frustrated with his own attempt to describe poetry. I love metadiscourse, so this poem is quite appropriate. My favorites were the simple glimpses of life in a rural town at the turn of the century. “Complete Destruction” discusses the burying of a cat, but it is really about the fleas on the cat. What a view of the world! There are many more poems by William Carlos Williams. I hope you get a chance to read some of them. What is your favorite poem by WCW?
I also read on the Poetry Foundation website a little bit about his life. I was struck time and again by his place in history. What a tragic story that he was completely overshadowed by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which Williams insisted put poetry creativity back a few decades. He was not read much at all while he was alive. While the Lost Generation was off in Paris together, he was delivering babies in his small town of Rochester, New Jersey.
I must admit I’m a bit curious to read The Waste Land now to see what the fuss was. But I suspect I that I will prefer the simple and clear images William Carlos Williams evokes in his poetry.
I am working on a different project today, but I came across this amazing poem by E.A. Robinson (1869-1935), who won more than one Pulitzer Prize in poetry. It’s called “Zola,” and it so perfectly captures why I disliked Germinal at the same time I absolutely loved it. If you’ve read any Zola before, you have to read this poem. If you want to read Zola, same thing.
Even if you’ve never read Zola before, what do you think of this poem? Does it capture your thoughts about any novel or author you’ve ever read?
I had hoped that by waiting a week or two I’d know what I want to say about Love’s Labour’s Lost, but after all this time I still have very little to say. I worry that I feel this way because I read a free Project Gutenberg version of it, and as I read in Shakespeare on Toast a few weeks ago, that is not necessarily a good thing: not every version is created the same.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is an amusing Shakespearean comedy: light, pure entertainment. I found few memorable lines in the version I read, but it was an enjoyable plot. I also watched Kenneth Branaugh’s version of the play, which was a completely original take on it. I loved that he was able to reinvent the play, using Shakespeare’s own words, in a modern scene without too much pain.
The play is about the king of Navarre and his court — four men who take a vow of celibacy for three years while they pursue their studies, forbidding women to even enter their court. When the princess of France hears of this development, she and her court decide to visit and see what kind of reception they can receive. Of course, the young men fall secretly in love with the lovely ladies, despite the King’s decree, and when they all discover the other’s pining love, they decide they should abandon their pledge and flirt with the women. Crossed love letters and a group of women determined to mock the royal court ultimately result in the four young men failing to accomplish their goal of wooing the women, but it makes for an amusing ride for the audience as we watch it unfolding!
Branaugh placed this
mythical Basque kingdom and court in Europe in 1939, giving his lovebirds the tendency to burst into songs — Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin. It’s a musical, it’s light. Is there any substance to it? Not a whole lot, but Shakespeare’s original didn’t have much either. There is a lot of play on words, most of it groan worthy. Apparently, Branaugh’s movie had less than half the original words as Shakespeare.
Love’s Labour’s Lost is the least often performed of Shakespeare’s plays. Nevertheless, I’m glad I gave it a try. It’s nice to know that even Shakespeare doesn’t do everything perfectly. Although, I will say that even this mediocre and less than impressive play still has delightful wordplay. Shakespeare didn’t do too badly.
I personally love poetry anthologies, and I have searched for something my son would also enjoy so he could learn to appreciate poetry as I do. We may have found a winner! Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year (Little, Brown and Company, 2012) is a poetry anthology organized by month. Each season of the year and specific holidays have poems, and the pages are illustrated by Marjorie Priceman with child-friendly bright watercolor paintings. (more…)