This week I got an email from the Academy of American Poets giving the results of the voting on the best poems of the year. I've mentioned before that I get a daily email from the AAP (not the American Academy of Pediatrics), whose site is Poets.org. I didn't vote in these elections, but when I looked at the choices, I was surprised and interested to see that of the ten chosen, five were ones I had particularly liked myself. ( I always save the ones I like best and delete the others from my email.) Considering that voters had about 350 poems to choose from, this seemed a high level of agreement. You can look at the list here of which poems were chosen. There are links to all of them.
I had some trouble deciding which one of them to share with you here, but finally decided on this Rafael Campo poem, entitled "Love Song for Love Songs," for a couple of reasons. First, I've been reading a lot of love poetry this week, drafts from my seventh and eighth graders. I'm touched and amused in about equal measure by their take on romantic love, the pain and embarrassment and ecstasy and misery. At this age, at least in our school, they are mostly talking about crushes and adoration from afar, which is no doubt just as it should be. Still, these emotions are real to them, and I'm glad they can write about them. And secondly, isn't all poetry love poetry in its broadest sense? Poets write about our love for people and places and times and living, and even when they are writing of suffering or of topics that seem to have nothing to do with love, they still remind us of our rootedness in this earth, and of the joy and sorrow of being human. This poem is light and funny (and I enjoyed searching out more of Rafael Campo's poems, and his ironic touch), but it also makes me think of the job of poets, to make the oldest ideas and experiences in the world fresh and new. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes not, but I am so thankful that they (and I, in my own way) keep trying.
Love Song for Love Songs
A golden age of love songs and we still
can't get it right. Does your kiss really taste
like butter cream? To me, the moon's bright face
was neither like a pizza pie nor full;
the Beguine began, but my eyelid twitched.
"No more I love you's," someone else assured
us, pouring out her heart, in love (of course)—
what bothers me the most is that high-pitched,
undone whine of "Why am I so alone?"
Here's the rest.
And here's today's roundup.
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