None. Of. The. Poetry.

This past week I decided I’m abandoning the Poetry Reading Challenge 2020.

The option I chose was to receive a poem via email from the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day Project and to pick out and write about my favorite poems from one week a month here on the blog. Then not only did I double down on the challenge, to do it each week, but also I tripled down to add listening to a poetry podcast The Slowdown by Tracy K. Smith, the former Poet Laureate of the United States and including those poems in the mix of ones from which I’d choose my favorites. 

After only two weeks of trying this, I’ve learned that neither poetry resource is going to work for me. It seems with both, that every poem, or at least every other poem, is as depressing as f***. Right now, with some stresses at work that I am dealing with, or really maybe…EVER, I don’t need that. 

I also want to refocus my reading efforts on the two fronts I already was working:

  • With fiction, to get back to “old school” detective fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe.
  • With nonfiction, to return to reading Taylor Branch’s America in the King Years trilogy.

To those ends, this weekend I want to continue my reading of the Sherlock Holmes canon and the eighth Nero Wolfe novel, Where There’s A Will. I also want to continue reading Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65, the second in the series, that I began a few weeks ago. 

While I only read four Sherlock Holmes short stories earlier in the week, I enjoyed reading them. With Doyle, it is not as much about the mystery as it is about how Holmes learns of the mystery and what he does or doesn’t do once he has solved the mystery. In that regard, he is much like Hercule Poirot that he allows circumstances to happen, sometimes to the detriment of others, making himself the judge, jury and sometimes executioner. I look forward to reading some more this weekend and during the upcoming week.

This doesn’t mean that I am abandoning poetry altogether. I would like to circle back to poetry in April for National Poetry Month, but on my own terms. I just have to face the fact that I am not good at long-term reading challenges with others. When I give myself reading challenges, I am mostly fine. For April, I think I will leave things more open to wherever “the spirit moves me” than saying that I will limit my poetry reading to x, y, or z.

This weekend, though, I am refocusing on older detective fiction and civil rights history. Wish me luck.

Update: Saturday was a bust for reading, but some Saturdays are like that as I just like to get out of town and go somewhere for lunch. Yesterday was such a day. I start Sunday with higher hopes, but am beginning first by reading other Sunday Salon posts and other posts from throughout the week. Among the posts are a return by Florinda of the blog The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness and a celebration of 8 years of blogging by Karen of Booker Talk.

Speaking of x numbers of blogging, I just received a notification yesterday from that I have been with them for 12 years. While I think I have been blogging on and off, mostly on, for 15 years, I joined 12 years ago. As I have off this coming week on Wednesday and Friday, I will try to write up a post about 12 years of blogging that I will share next week.

34 thoughts on “None. Of. The. Poetry.

  1. I don’t do too many challenges with others for that very reason. I love challenging myself, but I like to have control over what I’m reading. That’s why I rarely accept review books. I’ve never read Nero or Sherlock but I have seen the old Nero tv series and the old and new Sherlock movies and shows.


    1. I highly recommend reading the original Sherlock Holmes. I’m finding, though, the Nero Wolfe, at least in this latest one, is a little hard to follow. Sherlock Holmes are mostly short stories so it makes it easy to dip in and out of them.

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  2. You inspired me to seek out my favorite poems available online and copy and paste them into my own Google file. I went overboard with the whole idea, of course, as I always do, and ended up with ninety-three pages of poems. These are all poems I love, in any case, and now it’s a file of poems that I can do something with later, maybe in April. So I thank you for the inspiration. And I’m glad you’ve abandoned a dead horse.

    Besides I need you to continue on with the America in the King Years books so you can share those with us. I’m not much good at long books and I’m awful with books in a series, so there isn’t much hope for me in getting to these.

    I hope you will also keep sharing your detective books. My husband and my sister-in-law love these, but I can’t seem to follow the plot of a mystery. I want to pass on your recommendations to them.

    Have a delightful week.


    1. The good thing is with Sherlock Holmes is that they’re mostly short stories or sometimes novellas. However, I am getting lost in this latest Nero Wolfe so I’m looking forward to reading the Holmes this afternoon.


  3. I am proud of you for sticking to the poetry challenge for a few weeks until you were certain it wasn’t right for you. Adding more depressing things to our life is just not necessary! It should be fun for you to get back to old school detective books!


  4. I agree – no point in continuing something that doesn’t bring you enjoyment! If you want a little variety on the same themes you’ve got, check out For the Sake of the Game (short stories inspired by Sherlock Holmes stories). It’s a lot of fun variety and different styles, with the same inspiration 🙂 Have a great week!


  5. Sorry that The Slowdown (and the poetry challenge in general) didn’t work out for you, Bryan. It’s good, though, that you tried branching out and trying something new. That’s one of the things I love about you as a blogger — it’s always good to see others’ approaches to this literary life of ours. Maybe poetry will find you in another way at another time.


  6. Ah, the “gloomy gus” school of poetry has waylaid another one. Between the professors of Moriarty who want to impress our inner Sherlock Holmes with the depth of their unsolvable puzzles and the gloomy gus types who are sadder than you can ever be, it’s a wonder that anyone sticks around poetry for anything more than borrowable impressiveness and suitable funerals.


  7. Good luck! It’s neat that you tries something and then gave it up when you realized it wasn’t working for you.
    Reading all of Sherlock Holmes is a fascinating experience. I did it a couple of years ago, actually listening to the whole canon, in chronological order of publishing. I’m planning to start the same thing with Hercule Poirot in March.
    As for SH, I highly recommend The Sherlock Holmes Book, a gorgeous book published by DK: beside wonderful summaries and resources on each story or novel, it has excellent introduction to historical and social backgrounds, and so much more.
    Actually, I realize this post I did explains things quite well, lol:


    1. I’ll look for the book. Thanks for the suggestion, Emma. I’m not reading in chronological order. I did try that but then I forgot where I was, so I’m just reading as they are arranged in the collections I have and I’m okay with that. I’m enjoying the stories so far.


  8. I get all excited when I join things like this, but sometimes after starting I find out it just isn’t my thing and end up not doing it. And that’s ok with me.


  9. Nothing wrong with changing up your poetry strategy. You’ll figure out what works for you. In the meantime, enjoy the older detective fiction and civil rights history!


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