Monday, January 15, 2007

Why Do Poets Only Read Poetry?

To tell you the truth, the only book of poetry to make it on my Top-Five Books of All Time is Wild Iris. I enjoy reading a good military history like The Making of the Atomic Bomb or a good sci-fi like Dune or a good mountaineering book like K2: The 1939 Tragedy or a good archiological book like Gateway to Atlantis. I like reading. It is not betraying my poetic sensibilities by reading these, it is merely adding to my arsenal. It makes me a stronger writer to figure out the techniques or patterns in words that make us laugh, sweat, scream, cry, believe, and most importantly suspend our disbelief. Poetry is so dense that sometimes I am very energized by it, but mostly I'm just bored. I grew up reading Tom Clancy. That's not the first thing I expect a poet to say in an interview. I expect Byron, Shelley, Eliot, Thomas, Dante -- not Clancy. For God's sake not Clancy. Why not? The man has found a formula that works and works well. He has found a couple of characters that interest him enough to keep writing about. Good for Clancy. I have since stopped reading him for other reasons, which I will not go into now, but I still go back and read some of his older stuff sometimes. I think I read poetry least. I just want to react to the words, not rehash what others have already said.

4 comments:

Collin said...

I try to balance my poetry with novels and the occasional memoir. This past year I managed to read "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood, "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith, "The City of Falling Angels," by John Berendt, "Running With Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs and "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion.

Collin said...

I try to balance my poetry with novels and the occasional memoir. This past year I managed to read "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood, "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith, "The City of Falling Angels," by John Berendt, "Running With Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs and "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion.

Radish King said...

Not me. I get more inspiration for writing poems from reading fiction than I do from reading poems.
xor

Anonymous the Younger said...

I think fiction is the way to go, I just wish so badly that a fiction class would fit my schedule. Oh well. What is it EH said, "If you need a college, you shouldn't be a writer anyways." Something like that.

-ATY