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 merely 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 late American calligrapher, Lloyd Reynolds (1902-1978), of Oregon’s Reed College, who taught me that “The hand thinks!” An idea, I’ve come to understand, clarified 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 famous 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 experience 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 initially 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 awakens 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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