What’s better than a communal celebration centered on poetry? It’s National Poetry Month, and I just found out from Hanna over at Book Geeks Anonymous that there’s a tag to help us celebrate. You can find out more about the link up over at The Edge of the Precipice.

What are some poems you like?

ALL OF THE POEMS! Okay, maybe I should name a few. “Ithaka”, “Spring and Fall: To a Young Child”, The Ballad of the White Horse, “Variations on the Word Sleep”, “Lament for the Rohirrim” (It’s basically “The Wanderer”), In Memoriam (I’m that guy who actually likes the Prologue and Epilogue), “Envy of Other People’s Poems”

What are some poems you dislike?

This one is the hardest to answer. So many poems that I disliked at first have grown on me (especially as I’ve grown older). I’m not so sure about the longevity of poems that are merely blank pages performed by the poet clearing his throat or saying his phone number.

But I don’t want to discount the possibility of meaning making. And here’s why:

C. D. Wright’s (who, sadly, recently passed) poetry has always been difficult for me. The first time I read Deepstep Come Shining, I had no clue what was going on. But those are the poems, the ones we don’t get, that we need to struggle with and stay with. Marianne Moore reminds us that “we / do not admire what / we cannot understand.” Once a classmate pointed out how much Wright keeps focusing on the word whole even though so much is fragmented just like the court reporting shorthand adopted from the poet’s mother, I had a new way to enter into the road-trip through the South with her. And now that I’m living in the South, it’s become much more important to me.

Are there any poets whose work you especially enjoy?  If so, who are they?

Gerard Manley Hopkins is basically my poet-formator. When I first randomly came across one of his poems back in 2004, I thought, “This is poetry!” Hopkins along with Tennyson and C. P. Cavafy are probably my favorite poetic triad. It’s a contentious triad, with Hopkins accusing Tennyson of being “Parnassian,” and Cavafy balking at Tennyson’s Stylites poem because “the complaints of Simeon, his eagerness for the ‘meed of saints, the white robe and the palm,’ his dubious humility, his latent vanity,” were not worthy of “so great a saint, so wonderful a man” (You can read more about that here).

Do you write poetry?

Yeah…but let’s not get into that. Move along, move along.

Have you ever memorized a poem?

Absolutely! I memorized “Spring and Fall” and it still comes back to me during moments that Hopkins would say were “charged” or “chimed” with other moments.

Do you prefer poetry that rhymes and had a strict meter, or free verse?  Or do you like both?

I like both. Theodore Roethke has some great free verse. But what really draws me are poems that are pulled together somehow through shared sounds. This is why I like Hopkins’s “The Windhover” so much (and you can read more about that here). It doesn’t have to be rhyme though. There are so many other ways to highlight parallelism, like with alliteration, rhythm, or repetition (but with a difference). What I find most fascinating is when a form is adopted by the poet only to be subverted in some way that opens up even more meaning for us as readers.

Do you have any particular poetry movements you’re fond of?  (Beat poets, Romanticism, Fireside poets, etc?)(If you haven’t got any idea what I’m talking about, that’s fine!  You can check out this list for more info, if you want to.)

I tend to like poets who are on the margins of movements. Jack Gilbert and Thomas Merton have some connections with the Beats, but they aren’t quite inside the movement. Hopkins is very much a Victorian, but he was inaccessible to readers of his time, seemed to strike a chord with the Modernists, and was strongly influenced by the poets he studied as a classicist.

Now’s your chance to share your favorite poets and poems.

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