April is Poetry Month. I know, I know. It is the end of the month already. So sorry. I’ve been a little, well, busy. Long-time readers know that I developed a love of poetry when I had FBC. There was something about being sooooooo slowed down that enabled me to enjoy poetry in a way that I never had before. Cultivating an appreciation for and love of poetry was definitely a Silver Lining of FBC. Poet Pamela Spiro Wagner has written a sublime beginners guide to reading poetry, in poem form of course. Turns out, mastering poetry is a lot like mastering life: totally doable and utterly enjoyable. Hope that you enjoy!
How to Read a Poem: A Beginner’s Manual by Pamela Spiro Wagner
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.
You can now read poetry.
~From “We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders” by Pamela Spiro Wagner