When I was younger I didn't get poetry. I mean, I thought it was real purdy and all that, but I never rilly understood it. I'd just listen carefully to what our lit teacher was saying about Bruce Dawe and Wilfred Owen and kind of give it back to her in essays. I knew how to pick out the bits that meant something without knowing what they meant, if you see what I mean. I didn't really get back into poetry reading until I was about 35 and suddenly it all came together - the beauty and the sense. People might call it maturity but it has been well established I have none of that, so I'm not sure what has happened. Maybe life's experiences have nevertheless managed to find a crack in my brain and seep in, deepening my appreciation of the human condition and my compassion for my fellow man despite my determination to remain shallow.
So now when I read Wilfred Owen - "In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,/He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning." - I find myself moved. I say things like, "Well, well, well. Goodness me." Or words to that effect.
What I really wanted to say, though, is that I've done no reading this week. Nowt. Not even the ingredients on the back of the cereal packet. However, I did buy a book! A poetry book. I was in Borders trying to decide between two different volumes of Australian poetry. They seemed pretty similar but one had heaps of Ania Walwicz poems while the other had only two. But they were her two best: 'Australia' and 'Little Red Riding Hood'. The other book didn't have 'Little Red Riding Hood'. I couldn't choose between them so I took neither: I think I'm going to have to go back and get both. My poetry shelf needs beefing up to more than just an amusing limerick collection.
Instead I bought a collection by Ishmael Reed. I based my judgment on a quick flick through the book and one poem of his that in the past I've read and loved: 'Beware: Do Not Read This Poem'. I'll let you know how I go.
In the meantime, this is a great poem. And the commentary by Camille Paglia is worth a look too.
Spin Me Some Platters:
Love is a Rose - Linda Ronstadt
Short Memory - Midnight Oil
Are You Ready to be Heartbroken? - Lloyd Cole & the Commotions
I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day - The Pogues
Loco - Fun Lovin' Criminals