It’s a good day to celebrate poetry! For the last couple weeks, I’ve been working through three books on poetry. I had started the first two and they reminded of a third I’d read many years ago, so I pulled it off the shelf as well.
The oldest one (published in 1969) is The Pursuit of Poetry by Louis Untermeyer. If you’re a poet (or an aspiring poet), this book is an invaluable resource! I know, I know. There are some who dispute the importance of poetry, so please humor me. Watch this video, Poetry: Why It Is Important and decide whether Mr. Griffin’s observations are valid, okay?
The other two books I’ve been reading are, oddly enough, both titled How to Read a Poem! The first is just over 100 pages and written by Tania Runyan for the Field Guide Series. (Indeed, it’s exactly the book to slip into your back pocket when you don a deerstalker cap and grab your magnifier for a poetry hunt!) Runyan’s unique approach involves using a Billy Collins poem entitled Introduction to Poetry and examining it … just as one might examine clues (Sherlock-style) as they present themselves!
The second How to Read a Poem adds and Fall in Love with Poetry to its title. This volume by Edward Hirsch is a wonderful book! Fellow poet Charles Simic is quoted (on the inside page) saying: “If you are pretty sure you don’t like poetry, this is the book that is bound to change your mind.” Indeed, Hirsch makes you want to fall in love with poetry. His passion for poetry convinces you he’s correct when he says: “… poems breathe deeper meaning into our lives.”
Which one of us would despise the thought of having deeper meaning breathed into our lives?!
Don’t get me wrong. Neither Untermeyer’s book (if you can find a copy of it) nor Hirsch’s volume will be a quick and casual read. If you’re looking for that, take the field guide out of your back pocket. But if you want to fall in love (or deepen your love) for poetry, dive into the deep water and learn poetry from masters who clearly love poetry’s pursuit!
I have another reason to celebrate poetry today! The 2014 winners for the National Federation of Poetry Societies (NFSPS) annual contests have been announced! NFSPS has been around for more than 50 years and their membership is made up of state poetry societies. Each Spring NFSPS conducts a contest with 50 categories. I don’t know how many entries they field, but I’m pretty sure there’s some serious competition.
I received an email from my friend DesperatelyDoodling Debbie with the great news that one of her poems had been chosen for the top (get that? TOP!) NFSPS award! For those who believe you can’t earn money at poetry, consider this: Debbie’s poem has earned her $1,500 (get that? one-thousand-five-hundred dollars)! In her honor, I’ve highlighted her name in red (below) and given her the much-earned kudos of a star-studded sky background. Way to go, Debbie!