Poetry is Brewing

The best part of Books, Brew, and Banter is the brew.  No, not the coffee, though it’s good.  The brew that comes from stirring our backgrounds, interests, and personalities together. And right now, poetry seems to be on the hob.
The first drops fell into the pot when we read poet Maya Angelou’s memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Then Ken, blogging about his conversation with Truman Capote, mentioned that his brother Ron was a budding poet in those Capote days.  And at about the same time, Pat happened to be reading Billy Collins’ Aimless Love.  And Ronda, passing through a Barnes and Noble on her winter travels, not knowing poetry was brewing back home, almost bought Billy Collins’ newest volume.
Into this thickening brew, people began tossing names:  Robert Frost, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Emily Dickinson, Ronald Johnson, Herbert Scott. 
We began emailing each other poems – for example, this one from Marilyn who wrote that it made her cry when she tried to read it to her professor during her freshman year in college.  (She was forty-five at the time.)
For Hettie
My wife is left-handed, which
implies a fierce determination.  A complete
other worldliness.  It’s WEIRD BABY.
The way some folks are always
trying to be different.
A sin and a shame.
But then, she’s been bohemian
all her life . . . black stockings,
refusing to take orders.  I sit
patiently trying to tell her
what’s right.  TAKE THAT DAMN
PENCIL OUTTA THAT HAND
YOU’RE RITTING BACKWARDS.  And
such.  But to no avail.  And it shows
in her work.  Left-handed coffee,
left-handed eggs; when she comes
in at night . . . It’s her left hand offered
for me to kiss.  Damn.
And now her belly droops over the seat.
They say it’s a child.  But I ain’t
quite so sure.
                        Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
Also, there seems to be a flurry of media attention to poets in the last few weeks. Deborah Garrison (A Working Girl Can’t Win) celebrated a birthday in February.  Krista Tippet (On Being, NPR) interviewed past poet laureate Mary Oliver.  And The New York Times this past weekend ran a story on the death of past poet laureate Philip Levine.
Now, Lent—that season meant for settling in and getting ready for the great, grave mystery of death and resurrection – is upon us.
Maybe this is a good time to consider the religious poetry of T. S. Eliot (Ash Wednesday and The Four Quartets).  Or the poetry of seventeenth century cleric John Donne, who didn’t separate his passion for God from his passion for Anne More (with whom he had twelve children).  Donne’s fusion of the worldly and the spiritual feels particularly serendipitous on the heels of An Altar in the World. 
Or we might read Gerald Manley Hopkins.  Here is a famous Hopkins poem, and one of my favorites, about God’s revelation of Himself in the physical world.
                God’s Grandeur
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
        5
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
        10
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

                                               Gerald Manley Hopkins
I’m glad poetry is brewing, that our group is toying with the idea of adding poetry spacers between the book discussions.  We could all use more poetry in our lives.

By Sharelle Moranville

2 thoughts on “Poetry is Brewing”

  1. As always, Sharelle, you are warm, thoughtful and generous with your learning. You might even make of me a believer in book club poetry !

    Like

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