Ah, poetry!

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day and/or sometimes the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath. This is my 37th Sabbath and also part of The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb of the blog Readerbuzz.

For tomorrow’s Sabbath, I’m taking a break from the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri, which I have been reading since the start of the year. Instead, I’m going to dip into a little poetry. The impetus to read poetry right now was buying a book of poetry by one of my former college professors this past week. One of my college roommates asked my wife about him during a phone conversation, and I Googled him, found the book, and immediately bought it on Kindle to read. The book is Twisted Shapes of Light by William Jolliff.

From there, I went to the Free Library of Philadelphia and filled my virtual bookshelf with poetry books. A few authors I had heard of, some I had read, others I’d never heard of or read. Here’s what I picked up:

  1. An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, the 23rd and current Poet Laureate of the United States.
  2. Whale Days and Other Poems by Billy Collins, a former Poet Laureate of the United States (2000-2003).
  3. Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez.
  4. Hybrida by Tina Chang.
  5. Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn.

All of this poetry talk got me thinking about how I came to fall in love with poetry, especially contemporary poetry. Over the next couple of weeks, and coincidentally corresponding to April being National Poetry Month, I will explore that, including my own poetry that I wrote and even had a reading several years after college. But for now, I’ll leave you with a snippet of a poem by my former professor:

It may be as close as an old man in Michigan
comes to the sound of the sea. Call it thunder
if you want, but it’s not thunder, not at all.
It’s more like the rush of semis on a freeway

This is the start of his poem, “Rain on a Barn South of Tawas,” the rest of which can be found on The Poetry Foundation website.

This month is the 25th National Poetry Month started by the American Academy of Poets in 1996 so it is only apropos that I am reading poetry.

16 thoughts on “Ah, poetry!

  1. Now you have me aching for some good poetry. I’ve been collecting quite a few of them in my TBR but have been waiting for the “right time”. I guess now is as good as any. Many of the ones you listed are new to me – Hybrida especially is catching my eye and I’d like to give that one a try.

    How good it feels to read any of your former professor’s work right? I try to read Nikki Giovanni’s poems, mainly since she taught at the grad school I went to but I haven’t checked lately. Will be looking forward to hearing which ones you enjoyed.


  2. I appreciate poetry but I tend to never reach for it. I had no idea that you wrote poetry though. Somehow I missed that fact all these years.


  3. I’m not a big poetry reader, but I have come to enjoy it more over the years. Unfortunately my poetry collection did not make the move to FL with us, so it’s time to start rebuilding. I recently subscribed to Poem-A-Day so I’m reading one with my morning emails.


  4. I am not a huge poetry reader, but I do like the start of your professor’s poem. I also like the sound of the book in which poets respond to the pandemic.


  5. Poetry is a good break from the Inspector Montalbano series, which can be a bit dark and depressing. I also occasionally write poems, when the inspiration strikes, and keep my notebook within reach. A favorite poet is Ginger Andrews, An Honest Answer.


  6. I’m crazy about poetry. The summer I worked in Yellowstone Park I only took one (!) book with me, and it was The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. It was the only book I had, so I read it all and I read it very slowly. I flipped through until I found a poet I liked and I’d read all her poems and then I’d find another. I was most taken with William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens and Weldon Kees.

    Great idea to spend a day with poetry.


  7. Cool. One of the books I’m reading is poetry by William Carlos Williams but I keep forgetting it has a bookmark in it so I should finish it around December. I am intrigued by that snippet.


  8. I read a lovely poetry book, Crumb-Sized Poems, and was a bit inspired to try my hand at some poetry this week. I haven’t written (bad) poetry since I was a teenager and it was invigorating. I should probably check out some of the books you’ve added to your bookshelf. Happy reading!


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