Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Poems to...series by Roger Housden

From Kate’s Writing Crate…     

          Poetry is something most people identify with school—bad flashbacks of memorizing poems or analyzing them to death.

          I’ve since realized poetry enriches my writing and my life. I’m in awe of the poet’s genius.

I think all writers would benefit from reading poems.             

          Poets are a cut above as most writers could write fiction, nonfiction, short stories, essays, articles, etc. Poetry, not so much.

          Poets use few words on a short canvas. They write concisely and precisely conveying what we cannot find the words to say.

          “…great poetry reaches down into the depths of our humanity and captures the very essence of our experience. Then delivers it up in exactly the right words. This is why we shudder with recognition when we hear the right poem at the right time.” Introduction to ten poems to say goodbye by Roger Housden, page 13.

          This is the last book in his poetry series that includes ten poems to change your life; ten poems to open your heart; ten poems to set you free; and ten poems to last a lifetime. If you want to read poetry but don’t know where to start, this series is a good one to begin with.

          Housden chooses each poem reproduced in his books. After the poems are his essays sharing what the poems mean to him and to humanity.

          In response to Mary Oliver’s poem “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?” on pp. 61-64 of ten poems to set you free, Housden wrote on page 65: “Mary Oliver’s body of work is a pure litany of rapture, a song of ecstatic praise in honor of the physical world.” (As she is one of my favorite poets, I completely agree.)

After reading “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” by James Wright, Housden noted on page 79 of ten poems to last a lifetime “…That shocks me awake to a greater aliveness still, awake to a sensation, below words, of the complexity, the beauty, the tensions, that make up my life.”

I had never read Naomi Shihab Nye before, but I love her poem “The Art of Disappearing” on pp. 91-92 of ten poems to last a lifetime. She reminds readers why to decline invitations from people you barely know, lost touch with or don’t care for—time-wasters all.

On pp 35-36 of ten poems to say goodbye, “How It Will Happen, When” by Dorianne Laux is about the death of her husband. Through little details, she shares her grief and the passing of time.

Housden shares, “…Only one of my close friends has died, and no one I have ever lived with. Perhaps it is because I am a stranger to the grief in this poem that it felt like an initiation of sorts when I first read it, a baptism into a dimension of being human that I never knew. A poem can do this for us.”

Yes, it can.

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