Monday, April 30, 2007

ten essential books of poetry

I have just discovered Poetry Thursday. The most recent blog column asks, What ten books do you believe are essential reading?

I haven't read nearly enough books of poetry to be able to speak on this with any authority. But I've read some gems, and I am happy to share:

1. Festival Bone by Karen Rigby. A wonderful collection of poems by a very talented poet.
2. music for landing planes by by Eireann Lorsung. Another new poet definitely worth exploring. Not that I'm biased about these two or anything.
3. Selected Poems: 1960-1990 by Maxine Kumin. She came to the university a few years ago and was wonderful, fascinating to listen to.
4. Eating the Honey of Words by Robert Bly. A wonderful character, he came to one of my graduate poetry classes, speaking in that strange, old-man gravelly voice of his, reading his words. Strange to look back and think, I was in a room with him, one of sixteen people in one room and Robert Bly.
5. Selected Poems by Anna Akhmatova. What a beautiful life story, so complex and courageous.
The Wellspring by Sharon Olds. This is the book that finalized my falling in love with poetry.
7. Diving Into the Wreck or Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich. One of my absolute favorites.
8. The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forche. I cannot wait to meet her this summer, to learn.
9. Selected Poems by Pablo Neruda. One of my favorites. Neruda. Bliss.
10. The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton. I love "The Kiss." I love the drama of Sexton's life (of Plath's life too). I love her words.

I know there are so many more beautiful books of poetry, slender volumes on my shelves, that will one day be added to this list.

Today, rain. It came in as a thunderstorm at school, but turned to drizzle as I got home. Lightning though, small spurts, and subtle thunder. This season is my favorite with the fierce storms. I remember sitting in the living room of my Saint Paul apartment, cat carrier at the ready, watching the news as tornado watches and warnings sprouted up on the evening news, rain came in torrents, and then quiet as the sky turned a strange hue. I have been lucky so far--to be witness to these surprising storms, but have never lost anything.

Pre-observation meeting this morning, the briefest yet. I wonder if he thinks it might not be worth it to spend the time now that I'm leaving. I think this might be one of the nicest observations yet; there isn't the pressure of being rehired. I could really use the feedback. And it's a little more casual now. Breeze in, out, conversation.

And a letter of recommendation, from one of my department heads, brought me to tears--just bleary eyed--but reading those kind thoughts, those well wishes and hopes for me to have a job, the regret that I have to go. It makes me feel good, even if going is what I am ready to do.

And now, a cold. How can I have a cold while facing May? It's nearing 6:30 and my bed, those sheets, are beckoning. I need to find toothpicks to keep these wet lids pried open. Dark circles. I can pat them with my fingertips and feel that damp clinging. Is that a bad sign?

And why now, this first day without rehearsal? The stress has toddled its way along, catching up to me: post-Kelly wedding, post-opening weekend, post-job loss and now pre-observation, pre-application to the new school district, pre-my own wedding, pre-saying goodbye to school, pre-Boston (why am I making this list? What is wrong with me? I don't think I need more stress!).


- The dogs have a place to stay this Boston weekend. The man on the phone sounded kind, which is good. I feel like a parent leaving her children with a baby-sitter for the first time (this is untrue, but it sounds good).
- Two letters of recommendation and one on the way. My resume updated already, a letter of intent dancing its way through my head. Snippets of desire.
- A much-needed trip on the horizon, a chance to slip out of the Midwest and into the skin of someone else for a while. A wedding, a baby, a hotel room. There's always such anticipation in airports, in hotel lobbies. Something thrilling will happen this coming weekend. Me in a plane is thrilling enough. I will write poetry from a thousand feet.
- Another afternoon off, catching up on shameful television pleasure: these episodes and these stockpiled. Guilty pleasures.
- A new knitting project. To make amends for that disaster of "something blue" for Kelly. Shh, I won't say any more. Even though she is currently turning red in the sun of Mexico, she will catch up upon return.

Relief: love, friendship. Feeling that sun-glow warmth in my chest, near my heart, perhaps coming from my heart. So many people blessing in my life: K, the girls (such a lovely wedding party), family.

I leave you, dear readers, with this picture, a beloved co-worker who felt the need to wear a wig from our costume shop. So kind, this math teacher knows about the small details of my life, those ups and downs, and always brings humor with him, humor I often need desperately:

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