Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your Favorite Poet, Please

Mine is Sylvia Plath because she inspired me to try and put words down on paper. She's a bit shopworn now, somewhat predictably the selection of teenage girls with angst, but an honest pick for me.
We tried to climb up to her grave in Heptonstall, England, near Hebden Bridge 15 years ago, but the climb was steep and the path was slick.
She would have appreciated the attempt.

Who is your favorite? Who inspired you?

Listen to Sylvia read "Lady Lazarus" right here:

From Tulips

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.


Todd Mason said...

A single favorite is tough, but probably my favorite, solely for poetry (though I dug where he was coming from as a pacifist, too), whose lifespan has overlapped with mine is William Stafford. But also Stephen Vincent Benet, Anne Sexton, what we can know of Basho without reading him in the original, Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda, whom I can barely sorta read in the original, cummings and marquis among the miniscules...Hamlin Garland would perhaps be the technically adept poet I find most risible (as opposed to all the Stuffed Owls in the world).

Lisa said...

If have to pick one, it has to be Robert Frost. Maybe it's because I've always known him and maybe it's nostalgia about New England, but he's always the first to come to mind.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wonderful bio of Anne Sexton written by her daughter-Searching for Mercy Street. I also like Sexton and Bob Hickok, Philip Levine, E.E. Cummings.Frost is amazing. Whitman too.

Gerald So said...

Philip Levine is one of mine. Donald Justice, Sharon Olds, Edward Hirsch, Tony Hoagland, Steve Kowit.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved Sharon Olds until someone told me she was not a very nice person and suddenly I saw her poetry differently. I have all her books though. Great picks. Tess Gallagher's poetry for Raymond Carver makes me weep. Or Theodoere Roethke's poem about dancing with a child.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Victor Hernandez Cruz
Anne Sexton
Adrienne Rich
Tim Seibles
George Trakl
Charles Bukowski
James Wright
Mary Oliver
Hayden Carruth
Charles Simic
Baron Wormser
Wes McNair
Ted Kooser
Christopher Watkins
Patricia Smith
B.H. Fairchild
Li Po
Pablo Neruda
Yusef Komunyakaa
Dawn Potter
Edwin Arlington Robinson
Elizabeth Bishop
Gary Snyder
Denise Levertov
Donald Hall
Jane Kenyon
Amiri Baraka
Kevin Young

Sorry...got carried away.

Anonymous said...

Emily Dickinson is a current favorite - stunning what she could do with a few words. Previous favorites include Robert Browning because he gets into people's heads and Edna St. Vincent Millay - story and language combined.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great list, Patrick. Some of them new to me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great interview on NPR yesterday with a woman who's just written a book about Emily and her editor. Sounded great. She is timeless, isn't she.

John McFetridge said...

Thanks, Patti, for this chance to give a shout out to a guy I went to school with, David McGimpsey.


One of the few students who really understood poetry, and then drove the profs nuts by writing epic poems about Gilligan's Island, macaroni and cheese and baseball.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, John. Checking him out now...

pattinase (abbott) said...

Please Don’t Make Me Read Your Blog
by David McGimpsey

I’d do anything
if I could have your love—
I’d give up strip poker
and my apricot facial scrubs

To see you smile I’d drink
30-day old egg nog.
But, please,
don’t make me read your blog.

I’m sure your mother
said some cutting things to you
and that sweater you lent your girlfriend
is not going to walk back home to you.

But, please, please, please,
don't make me read your blog.

To spend some time with you
I’d try your ham bits stroganoff
and I’d clip my toenails—
at least the biggest one

To show you how much I care
I’d give up my homemade rum.
But, please,
don't make me read your blog

I know the people you work with
say all these hilarious things
and your take on modern politics
has an unusual sting

But, please, please, please,
don’t make me read your blog.

Kitty said...

I love this Judy Garland poem:

The First Cigarette
I was a woman
Glamorous, sparkling,
With eyes that shone, garding secrets untold,
Lips that were petulant, pouting and bold
With a body moulded to gentlemen's delight
And pedicured toe-nails shining and bright.

I patronized night clubs,
Danced until three.
And hundreds of men
Were mad about me.

Then, in a panic
My dream began to cool,
I mashed out the cigarette
And was late for school.


Scott D. Parker said...

I don't write poetry but I do enjoy it. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Edgar Allan Poe. Call me simple but I like poetry that rhymes. I also enjoy the Romantic poets.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Where did you ever come across that, Kitty? I've never seen it before. Too sad.
The Romantics are great. I don't mind a little rhyme.

Neil said...

Richard Brautigan.

But why would Sharon Olds's lack of nice change anything? Her stuff is wonderful, sharp, and I think not-nice actually enhances it.

Kitty said...

Judy Garland's poetry.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Re: Sharon. It was more than not nice-it was not nice to people who you should be nice too--students, staff, etc. It made me disbelieve her poems. That she cast herself in a good light at other's expense. If you write about the evil in others I need to believe it's true.
Not nice in other ways (Persnickety, gruff, misanthropic) does enhance it, but not nice snooty, dismissive, etc. ruins it for me. Does that make sense?
Thanks, Kitty. I'm going to look for that.

Joe Boland said...

Dylan Thomas

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, boy. Thanks, Joe.

David Cranmer said...

Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost. Poe's Alone and Into My Own by Frost had a lot of impact in my teen years. Now that I think about it they are both pretty depressing poems.

Todd Mason said...

So often, I find I prefer a poet's prose, whether essays (Katha Pollitt), fiction (Grace Paley), or both (Thomas Disch). Proasic soul, I suppose.

Todd Mason said...

Proasic Park, prosaic soul.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Most poems seem to be written by depressed people, no?
Yes, though I fight against it, I'm more drawn to prose. Less work, I think.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

My fellow countryman, Dylan Thomas.

Ray said...

William Wordsworth - visited Dove Cottage up in the Lake District and his grave.
Also, Edmund Blunden's war poems.
But favourite poem is Lawrence Binden's 'For The Fallen'. "They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old...." Poignant words that cross all times.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Ray-I did get to the cottage in 1994. So gorgeous. Thanks.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Is there anything more wonderful than A Child Christmas in Wales.

Cloudia said...

Very nice choice of poem.
My fave poet is RILKE. I too try to bring warmth to the wintry cheeks of my words a they march in rank
Aloha from Waikiki!

Anonymous said...

T.S. Eliot, no question. In addition to all the obvious reasons, there's the diversity of his voice: from "The Waste Land", which I can never even hope to understand in its entirety, to the rhymes that later became the muscial, "Cats". Awesome.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Quite a diverse selection.

Todd Mason said...

Missing champions of Garrett P. Serviss and Ogden Nash.