05 January 2007

Another Poetry Meme

This meme came from Poefrika, a group blog written by African poets. I don't answer memes very often because my answers are dull, but I had good luck with the last poetry meme so I thought I'd give it a go.

Question one: Why do you write poetry (or literature) at all?

I can't sing, I can't dance, and I'm not exceptionally pretty. However, there are days when well-turned phrases pop into my head and beg to be committed to paper. I live for the joy that those days bring me.

Question two: What is your favourite poem? You know, the one you'd have loved to have written, the one by whose standard you base all other works of art. If your life depended on answering this question, what poem would you suggest to the person holding the knife to your throat?

When I think "favorite poem", the first thing that springs to mind is To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet. However, if you ask me which poem is the standard-bearer for my work, I would have to say it is When You Have Forgotten Sunday by Gwendolyn Brooks.

Question three: According to you, what is the state of poetry today? Is poetry flourishing or dying?

I'm not sure. There are pockets of society where it seems to be thriving (poetry slams come to mind). However, I think the general population views poetry-writing as a pastime for angsty teenagers.

Question four: What kind of poetry (or literature) do you dislike, and would not consider buying?

I don't like poems about nature. Verses about trees and flowers and stars do nothing for me.

Question five: Between the styles of Come (by Makhosana Xaba) and word speaks (by Kojo Baffoe) which do you prefer? Care to tell us why? Obviously, Makhosana and Kojo aren't required to answer this question.

I like both poems, but I prefer Come just a little more because it is written in an earthy style that I can relate to. With the other poem I have to struggle a little more to understand it.

Question six: What was the last poetry book you bought?

It was a boxed set of Nikki Giovanni's books. I was a 17-year-old dating a college student. He took me to a bookstore near his school. This was not a Borders store; it was an independent bookstore that carried all sorts of artsy books. I wanted to impress him with my sophistication but the only author I recognized was Giovanni, so I bought the set.

Question seven: Where do you go for poetry on the web?

Right now, I'm only reading contributions from Poetry Thursday participants on the web. I use Wikipedia when I am trying to find a specific poem, but for general reading pleasure I still use regular books.

Question eight: Do you talk poetry (or literature) with friends and family? "Hi honey -- Hey, I read this incredible poem today..."

No, I don't. For most of the people I know, their idea of poetry is more like greeting-card verse. That has its place but it's not my cup of tea. I do plan to share more poetry with my children, though.

Question nine: What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning poet (or writer in general)? One. What would you tell them to do or not to do?

Don't be afraid to edit. I used to believe that poetry was divinely inspired and once you wrote the words on the page you were NEVER to change them. What garbage!

Question ten: What line comes to you after the following two verses (in other words, please write the third verse -- these are spontaneous lines from me and are no part of any poem I'm writing or will be writing).

When the light from the lantern
beamed and fell upon the child,
Her sorrow became visible to all.

OK, brother and sister poets, share your answers!
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