MERIDIAN — I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
This poem by Joyce Kilmer is known by practically everyone who has had an English class – or at least the first two lines. It is also often parodied by later poets who felt it too simplistic.
Do you ever read poetry? Was it only a subject you suffered through in English class. Did you ever read poetry outside of class? Or, was it only in jest with friends: "Roses are red, violets are blue, you look like a turkey and smell like one, too."
I was fortunate enough to have befriended Edward Hirsch, a contemporary poet from Chicago, who spent several months in New Orleans when I was there. He often spoke of his "muse" who kept him awake at night writing – which explained why I could hear his old typewriter banging away at all hours. Edward liked reading poetry aloud, lucky me. I had never had anyone show me the pleasures of poetry before then – aside from nursery rhymes read to me as a child.
Admittedly for me it was not an immediate affection, some poems have a natural rhythm which make it easy to be lulled by them; others are more difficult. It's a bit like a crossword puzzle ... some come easy, others not.
This year, Mississippi received another "first" in the realm of the arts. Did you know our state had more writers per capita than any other state in the nation?
On June 7, the appointment of Natasha Trethewey as the Library’s Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2012-13 was announced. Trethewey was born in Gulfport on April 26, 1966. She is the author of four poetry collections and a book of creative non-fiction. Her honors include the Pulitzer Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2012, she was appointed the State Poet Laureate of Mississippi.
Poetry enters our lives in more way than in a schoolroom. Think about pop tunes and advertising jingles. Do you remember small placards nailed to fence posts along country roads? The signs were about 200 feet apart and if you missed the second or consecutive sign you backed up to read it;
“Dinah doesn't – Treat him – Right – But he'd – Shaved – Dynamite – Burma Shave.”
How about these spread apart signs?
“The monkey took – One look at Jim – And threw the peanuts – Back at him – He needed – Burma Shave”
All these poems are an enticement of sorts. Catherine Horne will be leading a new "Reading for Pleasure" class to begin after Thanksgiving week. Her first topic will be on poetry. Don't know anything about poetry? Not to worry, it will be entertaining – and you might learn something! Call (601) 485-1812 if interested.