I loved this podcast an interview with Donald Hall and Billy Collins, two former poet laureates.
To be honest, poetry is something I have always wanted to be into, but have had trouble getting poetry to stick. Every so often, though, a poem blows me over, but usually, poetry is hard. I think poetry would blow me over more often (or at least slowly seep itself into me with multiple readings), if I read more of it. Ideally, we would all read more poetry, view more paintings, watch more theater, listen to more music, classical music.
But here are a few of the cool segments from the podcast:
A good poem is like one of those eye charts in the doctor's office. You have at the top this big E and then as you go down it gets more ineligible. I like poems to start really clearly at the top and then as you read further, it gets more difficult.
Poetry and Ambiguity
No one really hates exclusively, or loves exclusively. No other art can embody this human ambivalence. Poetry is the home for ambiguity and ambivalence. A poet is someone who can't say one thing at a time.
Education and Poetry
Teachers tend to stand in between the poem and the student. We should memorize poems, to truly internalize poetry.
Poetry and death
If you are majoring in English, you are majoring in death. Every poem is written in the shadow of death. Its mortality that poetry wants to remind you of. The message of poetry is that life is beautiful, but you're going to die. Death is the illustrator of beauty. Fake flowers are not beautiful because they are not dying.
And here's two of the poems (I probably hacked them up pretty badly, but I hope you get the idea).
On Reaching the Age of 200
When I awoke on the morning of my 200th birthday,
I expected to be consulted by supplicants like the sibilate Kumy
I could tell him something.
Instead it was the usual thing,
dried grapefruit for breaksfast,
Mozart all morning interrupted by bee's wings.
And making love with a woman 181 years old.
At my birthday party, I blew out 200 candles.
One at a time, taking naps after each 25.
Then I went to bed at 5:30 on the day of my 200th birthday
and slept and dreamed of a house no bigger than a flea's house with 200 rooms in it.
And in each of the rooms, a bed,
and in each of the 200 beds, me sleeping.
When its late at night and branches are banging against the windows
You might think that love is just a matter of leaping out of the fire pan of yourself and into the fire of someone else.
But it's a little more complicated than that.
It's more like trading the two birds that might be hiding in that bush
for the one you are not holding in your hand.
A wise man once said that love was like forcing a horse to drink
But then everyone stopped thinking of him as wise.
Let us be clear about something.
Love is not as simple as getting up on the wrong side of the bed wearing the emporer's clothes.
No, its more like the pen feels after it has defeated the sword.
It's a little like the penny saved or the nine dropped stitches.
You look at me through the halo of the last candle
And tell me that love is an ill wind that has no turning.
A road the blows no good.
But I am here to remind you as our shadows tremor on the walls
that love is the early bird that is better late than never.
- Billy Collins