Friday, April 17, 2009

The Poem

How to Read a Poem: 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 

and trust. 


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.


2 comments:

Courtney said...

Is this the poem you chose to read? This is a great choice for your audience! I'm going to hang this up in the office.

Theresa Collins said...

They seemed to appreciate it. At least, they remained quiet, didn't throw things, and applauded afterward. I think that's the best we can expect from this crowd!