It is only just now in my life that a passion for poetry is awakening in me.
I would memorize it in school, feeling an occasional spark (when reading Poe’s The Raven, Sandburg’s Fog, Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening), but mostly confusion when faced with poets such as Walt Whitman or Tennyson. I wanted to like them, but I didn’t understand them and so I left well enough alone.
If I had had in my possession a book such as this collection, I am certain that my appreciation would have been deeper, and reading poetry would have become a regular part of my reading life.
This is a spectacular book of poems. When Sourcebooks asked me to review them, I was wary until I saw the poets which had been included. Poets such as:
- Maya Angelou
- Edgar Allen Poe
- Langston Hughes
- Billy Collins
- Sylvia Plath
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- John Keats
- Emily Dickenson
- Robert Frost, and yes, even
- Walt Whitman
Those are the big names which immediately pop out at me. But there are others, less familiar to me by name, but incredibly touching to me in their power with words. Specifically for ages 12-14, “this anthology features both classic and contemporary selections and includes an audio CD with poets reading their own work.” I popped it into my Beetle’s stereo this morning on my way to work and was immediately mesmerized by the words and the voices which spoke them. Listening to poems such as this made me not want to stop when I arrived at school:
Hold up the universe, good girl. Hold up
the tent that is the sky of your world at which
you are the narrow center pole, good girl. Rup-
ture is the enemy. Keep all whole. The itch
to be yourself, plump and bending, below a sky
unending, help up by God forever
is denied by you as Central Control. Server
yourself, poor false Atlas, poor “Atless,” lie
recumbent below the sky. Nothing falls down,
except you, luscious and limited on the ground.
Holding everything up, always on your own,
creates a loneliness so profound
you are nothing but a column, good girl,
a temple ruin against a sky help up
by forces beyond you. Let yourself curl
up: a fleshy foetal figure cupped
about its own vibrant soul. You are
the universe about its pole. God’s not far.
I have a hard copy to give away; only tell me how poetry affects you to enter into the drawing.
Congratulations to the winner: JoAnn of Lakeside Musing! Email your address, please, so I can have it sent to you.