Spring additions to my Personal Anthology of Favorite Poems

Earlier this year I borrowed from the poet Robert Pinsky the notion that students of poetry should create anthologies of favorite poems, not by simply collecting them but by hand-writing each of them before placing them in a collection.

(My first posting about this method can be read at http://faithatease.com/2017/01).

I’ve developed my method of following Pinsky’s valuable instruction by printing out the text of a favorite poem with each line containing triple-spacing before the next line. Then, in the wide spacing, I rewrite—with a favorite pen–the entire poem.

Each time I do this little exercise, I’m reminded of the words of the famous American calligrapher, Edward Johnston, who taught me that “The hand thinks!” An idea, I’ve come to understand, explicated by the Deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida.

As Spring of 2017 begins, I here offer the latest additions to my personal anthology of favorites:

  • More a poem of winter than spring but nevertheless memorable is Mary Oliver’s poem “First Snow” a description marked by the memorable phrase “its white rhetoric everywhere calling us back to why, how, whence such beauty and what the meaning”.
    –From American Primitive. Little, Brown, 1983.
  • “Christ Climbed Down,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. A poem of my early adult life that captivated me and encouraged my own life in faith and poetry. I recommend the entire collection of Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island of the Mind.
    –From A Coney Island of the Mind. New Directions, 1958.
  • As a retired journalist, I am particularly drawn to poetry triggered by the daily news. A recent example, the poem “Children of Aleppo,” which reflects on the “men inside the sky” who launch bombardments on a helpless Syrian city, is written by a Vermont poet, Chard deNiord, and was originally posted on the Poem-a-Day website of the Academy of American Poets on January 25, 2017:
    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/children-aleppo
  • “Susanna” by Anne Porter, provides the wisdom of an elderly immigrant woman “out of a little country/Trampled by armies” who awakes briefly in a hospital to share a truth spoken to her by her mother: “There’s not a single inch/Of our whole body/That the Lord does not love.”
    –From Living Things. Zoland Books, 2006.

 

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