Monday, September 19, 2011


I apologize, I am failing utterly at being a consistent and interesting poetry blogger! Its so difficult to find the time to sit down and really think and write, I am so busy these days. I know that is a shameful thing to say. 

For now, however, since I have no poetry to offer your eyes and minds, I would instead like to recommend some of my favorite books of poetry to you, in hopes that you READ. Because to be a good writer, everybody must READ. I'm sure some of these are common knowledge for some, but a lot of the younger poets I've come across would rather listen to Dashboard Confessional lyrics than sit down and read some Whitman. Which is a crying shame. Song lyrics are of course poetry in themselves (and often amazing poetry), but sometimes you just have to sit down  in silence and drink words up off paper. When you listen to a song, its like the emotion is already waiting for you in the music, you know? I don't even know what I'm rambling about anymore. Anyways.

So here are my recommendations! 

1. "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" by William Blake.

I feel like some people have an aversion to Blake because he uses a lot of Biblical themes in his work. But the Bible is arguably one of the greatest works of poetry ever written (I've never read it in its entirety), so how could that necessarily be a bad thing? He draws on the booming, epic style of Biblical tales in describing his own vision of what heaven and hell are truly like, and does so in a beautiful fashion. Beautiful, sweeping and philosophical. Also, his prints are gorgeous and very unsettling at the same time. So if you can find a copy that includes the illustrations, read that one - it enhances the entire experience quite a bit.

2. "Ariel" by Sylvia Plath.

In my opinion, after Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath is the most important female poet ever. And her reign as poetess was so very short, as she killed herself at the young age of 30. She began writing when she was very young, and wrote up until her death. Her poetry was vivid, fierce, dark, imaginative, beautiful and honest. She was a woman tortured by her own mind, and you can feel her pain oozing out from each word of her poems. Her book of poems "Ariel" was published after she committed suicide, and many of the poems in the book were written mere days before she took her own life. When you read this book, its like you are sitting quietly inside her mind as she is writing her suicide note, her elegy. Its a beautiful and tragic experience. Her life was definitely too short.

3. "Howl and Other Poems" by Allen Ginsberg.

You knows. This is one of the greatest works of poetry of all time, as well as one of the most controversial. They made a fantastic movie about Ginsberg, the poem itself and the resulting trial surrounding it a few years back starring James Franco (dreamboat). If you don't know the story, its this - when City Lights Books first published Ginsberg's work in 1956, both Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the store's manager were arrested on obscenity charges. This was because the poem describes things that folks back in the 1950s were particularly fond of hearing about - sexuality, promiscuity, homosexuality, drug use, etc. Luckily, however, the poem was deemed to have artistic merit and the case was dismissed. This trial also made it possible for many books that were banned in the US to finally be published, such as the works of Anais Nin and Henry Miller. Because it broke boundaries, and won the right to break those boundaries, this poem has gone down in history. And rightfully so. It is a raw, humorous, shocking, beautiful piece of work. I'd also recommend also tracking down an audio version of Ginsberg reading the poem - this is the kind of poetry that was meant to be shouted out loud.

Thats all for now, folks. Happy reading! 

What are some of your favorite poets or works of poetry?


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