Just my take on

FEBRUARY 11, 2012 11:45PM

Poetry Out of the Clouds Sampler

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I have my mother to thank for my love of poetry.  I don't know that she read much of it, but she made sure I did when I was little.  A Child's Garden of Verses was just the start.  The Childcraft book of poetry and others followed.  My great teacher Ronnie Smith introduced me to the English Romantics and changed my life.

 Fernsy mentioned on my last post that many people are shut out of some of the "best" poetry of today.  I have to agree with that in part.  I work hard to understand a poem, to explore HOW it means as well as what.  It's frustrating when I get nothing.  And I'm pretty knowledgable about poetry.  No wonder people think it's obtuse.

Bookstores aren't much help, except the used bookstores in college towns.  The little hole-in-the-wall places that are a maze, with chairs and stools around, and side rooms.  They have everything imaginable.  I get dizzy around the poetry shelves.  "Do you have a box I can put these in?"

Some of these poets I mention have been around a while, some are dead, but some are fairly new faces.  So, in no particular order....

David Bottoms--"Under the Vulture Tree" will take your breath away.  READ THIS.  One of my top ten.  www.poetryoutloud.org/poem/175602

Tony Hoagland--kind of wacky but he expertly reveals modern life.  I first read his poem "America" in the bathtub and damn near drowned I was so astonished.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/tony-hoagland (see "America" and "Beauty" from here).  Also  http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/21768 .

Pattiann Rogers--writer Barry Lopez said, "If this is not poetry in service to humanity, I do not know what is."  If that's not a requirement of poetry, I don't know what is.

Jane Hirshfield--drawing a blank on the poem, but I love one of hers about making soup and a new life.  Give this one a listen: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20439

Dorianne Laux--just love her.  Her website is nice, lots of stuff, videos, audios, etc., but here's one of my favorite poems, from the book of the same name:  http://doriannelaux.com/poetry.html

C.K. Williams--he of the lonnnnng lines.

Candace Pearson--her first book is Hour of Unfolding (though other places give the name as Paper Wasp Nest).  Poems about  childhood, a father's cirrhosis, a mother's Alzheimer's, a brother's addiction, are sharp and honest.  http://rattle.com/blog/2010/10/alphabet-of-boa-by-candace-pearson/  and   http://inpossereview.com/ipr_pearson.htm

Bob Hicok--the dude is great.  Saw a guy in a bar who was a dead ringer.  Compare this picture with the one at the link below!
bob hicok lookalike 
http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/2010/01/bob-hicok.html   Am I right?  Twins?

Wyatt Townley--You can get to three poems from this link, and if you click on The Breathing Field, look inside at the first poem. 

Diane Wakoski--One of my students picked her poem "Inside Out" to recite at the poetryoutloud contest.  "Red Bandanas" is fine, but scroll down to "The Hitchhikers" and be wowed.  http://www.echonyc.com/~poets/wakowski.html

Bruce Weigl--Okay, I'm biased; he's my former teacher.  "Song of Napalm" haunts me to this day.  A link to more:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/bruce-weigl

Mary Oliver--I recommend New and Selected Poems, Volume One.  Her deep appreciation for all life results in poems that are pure prayer.  http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/mary_oliver
and it looks like that main site has much to offer!  "When Death Comes" and "Gannets" are favorites.

Ambrose Bierce--wrote with a blistering wit.  "The Decalogue" is an update on the Ten Commandments.  Here's a stab at statesmen:

Lucille Clifton--A prolific writer.  "oh antic God / return to me / my mother in her thirties...."  How I wish.

Sharon Olds--I love Sharon Olds.  "The Exact Moment of His Death" is probably my favorite from her book The Father.  Also great--"His Father's Cadaver" and "The Pope's Penis."  Here's some kid's school project about "Liddy's Orange":  http://prezi.com/jsmzuvwf0cfp/liddys-orange/

Wendell Berry--This link offers thirty-five poems, including the beautiful "The Peace of Wild Things."  I tear up just thinking of the time when he will not be in this world.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/wendell-berry

Dave Smith--Got to include this interview:  http://krieger.jhu.edu/magazine/spsum06/pages/f3poetry.html  I met Dave this summer.  He generously offered his skills and knowledge and sensibilities to me and my poems, and was kind, honest, and super smart.  Okay, I admit a crush.  Here are thirty-four poems.  Pick one.  Crush on him.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/dave-smith

Joy Harjo--"Eagle Poem" is gorgeous.  This link says music but it's Joy reading her poems.  She Had Some Horses is indeed a classic.  http://www.joyharjo.com/Music.html

Ronald Wallace--I tried to find a poem that kicked me in the stomach, "The Day My Father Said Shit," about a boy in the backseat of the car with his grandmother when his parents take her for a drive in the country, actually a ruse so they can dump her at the old folks home.  Such an awful beauty.  (I have a copy--if  you're desperate to read it, let me know.)  Here's a link to more:  http://mendota.english.wisc.edu/~WALLACE/poems.html

Toi Derricotte--Check out the three poems here:  http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poet/toi-derricotte

Wislawa Szymborska--Talk about accessible! John Guzlowski just wrote about her after she died last week.  Check out his blog for some fine examples.

Stephen Dunn--This is the poem that introduced me to Dunn.  He continues to amaze.  http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/stephen_dunn/poems/14902

Enough already!  I'm nowhere near finished.  Maybe I'll develop this into a regular weekend post, but one at a time from now on!  I hope you enjoy the selections and that they are not only accessible, but embraceable!

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Wow! Thank you so much for this, Good Daughter; great work. R
Lots of good links here... you're right about "Under the Vulture Tree"...it is stunning. OS has lots of good poetry...a lot coming recently from Greg. I agree about the children's addiction to poetry, get them started early and they become a lover of words. Gorgeous!
Thanks for the fine list of Poetic splendor!

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Thoth--I had fun putting it together.
Brazen--is there a list somewhere of OS poets? I don't post much of mine here. Thanks for reading!
Algis--you are usually the splendiferous one!
Thanks for the list. Accessible poetry sounds like a good place for me to poke around.
Daisy Jane--I will definitely look Ron up. I never thought of recording one of my readings and posting. I'll give it a try next time I read! "The Summer Day"--I found it, and get this: I had a piece of paper stuck in the book marking that page. Used that with my students one year, and they loved it, especially the last two lines. And I agree about ED. Here's my favorite of her poems (without her punctuating dashes):

this is the hour of lead,
remembered if outlived
as freezing persons recollect the snow
first chill
then stupor
then the letting go.
What does it say about me that I really want to read "The Pope's Penis"? I'm poetry challenged as a result of overexposure to Longfellow as a child, so I'll bookmark this and check them out!
It says you're normal and honest! Who wouldn't latch on to that title?! My favorite Longfellow--"The Aresenal at Springfield." If I remember correctly, his wife told him to write it.
I followed a lot of those links and really liked the work.

"Season when the young
buttercups and daisies climb up on the
mulched bodies of their forebears
to wave their flags in the parade"

was great. Hoagland, from Beauty,
a poem I liked in general.

So I have a question:
I don't understand anything about modern poetry forms. What's driving line length, other than when I run across Art James' work here and it seems to have something to do with visual aesthetics on the page? Maybe what I mean is line inclusion. A line ends with a "the" and the next one starts with whatever the article is modifying. Is it based on spoken rhythm? Is it based on what words the poet wants emphasized?

I understood the older more restricted forms, with specific rhythms and rhyme schemes, more like we still get in songs. It's not that I prefer them but I have a clue as to what the parameters are.
Wow! You really do know and love the poetry. Thanks for this. I trust your taste .Much to look forward to here, I'm sure. You are a peach GD!
So many here to love, thanks for this, and for your abiding love of poetry, I salute you and stand next to you all the same.
Great work. We have so much to thank our mothers for!! Some of the very things they did with us have shaped our lives and interests.
Just finished reading all of your posts searching for one of your poems. And though I found we have a lot in common, To Kill a Mockingbird and Don Camillo as well as parents with dementia, I found no explicit poetry. Went and read some of your recommendations from this post, I'll find the time to read more. Here's some angst from my youth - the only poem I ever wrote in meter with rhyme and the only one I can recite:

A man of wisdom's age
approached at moments black
smiled with voice of sage
and uttered this as fact,
"Life's a bed of roses so don't complain of a few thorns."

if one is as a dragonfly
impaled upon that thorn,
tis better then to die
and such a life be scorned.

When I wrote that I never thought I'd see thirty now I'm over sixty so I suppose I may have learned something along the way.

Thanks for your list and your posts.

@jmac, I guess I must have taken them down because I do send things off in the hopes of being published. I'm disappearing for a week or so to finish some work I need to do, but when I come back, perhaps I'll post some again, or something other than what I've done before, or I'll PM you one or two I have posted and then taken back. Thank you for the wonderful poem from a different time and place. Universal all the same.
Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! As a fiction and non-fiction reader and writer, I have NO idea whose poetry to read. Now I do!

ee cummings still my favorite!