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August 19, 2009

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Yes! I love this poem and entry. I am often dozing happily at a poetry reading, drifting in and out of attention. I hate to admit it, but it's a fact. The poems that mystify me at readings are the ones I love on paper. I've come to identify certain poems as the perfect poetry reading poems. Then there's the perfect Writer's Almanac poem, which should be enjoyed while still half-awake or sipping coffee. And there's the yoga class poem--a little touch of nature and zen of course. I'm often asked if I have any poems suitable for yoga class. The idea sounds a bit like a self-help poem to me. One that promises - yes, you too, can have an epiphany . . .

This post reminds me of Auden's statement: "The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition." I know I often drift off during poetry readings when I'm not familiar with the work but I also do so during certain concerts. Something in the words or music can bring me back but a lot has to do with the poet's delivery and enjoyment of his or her own work. (I can't stand it when a writer apologizes for what I'm about to hear. I once went to a reading where the poet introduced each poem with something like, "this poem didn't turn out the way I wanted it to," or "I'm not crazy about this poem but . . .") When I go to hear a poet whose work I love, I have a mental list of what I consider to be their greatest hits and hope they'll read them along with any new work. The Szymborska poem is wonderful. Thanks for a great post.
Stacey

Great post, great poem, and great responses. Nin, I want to be in the yoga class that's suitable for your poems. And Stacey, the Auden quote is so right on. Here's Osip Mandelstam as channeled through Robert Littell in his new novel, THE STALIN EPIGRAM, about the last years of Mandelstam's life: "When I was younger, poetry came easier and it was often quite good. Now that I am older, it comes much more slowly, but at times it is better. When I read aloud some of the poems in the Voronezh cycle, I don't have to pause for breath so my first readers will know where the lines break or bend or double back. The words speak for themselves. They no longer need the poet."

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