Moira Egan has added a question to the list: What do you read in bed? My own reading in bed tends to be simply whatever I’m reading generally; in other words, I don’t usually have one book going by the bed, and another going for daytime reading. Whatever I’m reading during the day just gets carted off to bed. Last night that meant an anthology that I’m reading because I’m supposed to review it: The Baltic Quintet: Poems from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden, edited by Edita Page. (I love her name; I didn’t make it up.) I’ll end up writing a favorable review; there are some fine poems in the collection. Here is a link to a poem by a Swedish poet who is included in the anthology.
Alex Stein’s ‘poem that you love, love, love, but don’t understand’ led me to another I-can’t-believe-what-you-can-find-on-the-web moment. I found a page here with 300 poems from the T’ang Dynasty, translated into English.
I haven’t found the particular poem Stein loves, but I’m not all the way through that web page yet.
In the responses so far, Philip Levine’s “They Feed They Lion” (here’s a link) has two nominations for ‘poem that you love, love, love, but don’t understand.’ One of those nominations comes from Jill Alexander Essbaum, who also nominates “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” for BOTH the funniest poem she’s read lately AND the last poem that made her cry.
Wallace Stevens has received a few mentions, too, in the don’t understand category, but my favorite Stevens nomination so far comes from Christopher Davis, who gives this surprising answer to the Bollywood film question. The question seems most welcoming to silliness, but Davis leaves room for a whole range of attitude and emotion — not only silliness — in his reply. He nominates Stevens’ “Large Red Man Reading” as his song to be sung in a Bollywood film: “in a serious film about the first years of the AIDS epidemic in America, sung by Ben Hepner or another great helden-tenor while walking around Chelsea or a similar once-gay neighborhood in an American city. This is a film that needs to be made, seriously, soon.”
Of course go back to Stevens’ Collected Poems to reread the poem, which I had to do; I didn’t remember it. The only website I could find with the poem on it is here.
And go to (rather than going back to, if like me she is a new discovery for you) Lynne Thompson’s work. I’ve just added her book Beg No Pardon to my books-to-order list. Here’s a link.
Charlotte Innes mentioned her as part of her answer to the new poet question, and indeed Thompson’s work looks exciting. You have to love the internal rhyme, all the sound, in such lines as “then we run, for true, and supper is all / cassava root, callaloo, very little sugar cane.”