This year, I'm thinking about how thankful I am for poetry. In this post, I'll tell you some books of poems. Last week I wrote about one of the books I got for my birthday. This week I'm going to write about three others, and then share an ode I wrote for my Thanksgiving tradition. (Here's last year's ode post, with links to previous ones.)
Camille Dungy's website calls her book Smith Blue "a survival guide for the modern heart." The poems are about, as Dungy puts it in "Daisy Cutter," "the world we have arranged," the mess we've made of it all.
I wrote a little bit about Agha Shahid Ali's book A Nostalgist's Map of America here. Ali writes about deserts of all kinds, from his original home in Kashmir, to South America, to the American west. It's hard to find anything short to quote, because it's all part of the whole, but here's one of his poems (not from this book), and Poetry Foundation has several more, too.
I also received Ten Poems about Art, selected and introduced by Geoff Dyer, a wonderful selection of ekphrastic poems.
Every year I read odes at Thanksgiving with my eighth graders, and we write them, too. This year I shared Neruda's "Ode to an Apple," which seemed to fit with the book we're reading, The Giver. I also shared "Ode to Subway," an ode by a middle schooler included in Nancie Atwell's anthology Naming the World. And here's the one I wrote this year:
Ode to Poetry
You have words to say it all,
even what can’t ever be said.
I read you or write you
when I’m happy,
or when I can’t bear it any more.
Sometimes I send you to others,
and sometimes I clutch you close,
keep you all to myself.
You’re filled with nouns:
flowers and dust,
onions and garlic,
You’re filled with verbs:
snack and giggle and rest,
yearn and caress and lose,
dream and wake and
You’re filled with moments:
an afternoon in Paris,
feeding pieces of schwarma to the pigeons;
a morning in Port-au-Prince,
watching tires burn;
soothing a baby in warm sudsy water.
You are deep and wide,
like a steamer trunk I’m packing for an ocean voyage,
or like the ocean itself,
stretching endlessly into the horizon,
with room for complications.
With room for all of it.
Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
It occurs to me on Friday morning that I ought to add - the American redstart is not some kind of political reference, but a beautiful little black and orange migratory bird that visits my yard this time of year. I wrote him his own poem, plus there's a photo, here.