I like to read poetry (what writer admits to otherwise?) but I don’t read it often. Partly this is because I’m picky. I have a hard time finding poems that I don’t simply appreciate, but also connect with, love. I like it when poems are (or, even better, appear to be) something simple that I can read and on some level understand, and then want to go back so I can find the other meanings, or just hear again the calming, uneven sound (I also prefer when they don’t rhyme). I realize there are many poems that can fit inside my tastes, but another problem is that I forget to seek them out.
The other obstacle, which is the reason it can take me months to finish one book of poetry, is that I like to read poems out loud. It helps me find the rhythm (or at least my version of the rhythm) and hearing the words, even in my own voice, makes the poem stronger, more real to me. This means I can’t really read poems in public places, and I don’t like to do it when I’m just sitting with others. Not only would me reading something out loud potentially invade their space, but it would draw them into my space. While getting this attention could just as well be good as bad, and I’m generally anxious to share when I’ve found some wonderful piece of writing, reading poetry is a private thing for me. I like to have myself in a personal pocket of space, where it’s me and the words and my voice, whether I’m whispering or speaking loudly.
To close off, I want to share something from Billy Collins, a poet I’ve only recently found who’s book, Aimless Love, I am slowly drifting through. This is the last stanza of his poem, “Bathtub Families”, where he talks about the plastic animal families meant to float in a bathtub that he saw in the pharmacy.
I think what I am really saying is that language
is better than reality, so it doesn’t have
to be bath time for you to enjoy
all the Bathtub Families as they float in the air around your head.