April is National Poetry Month and in case you missed it, Serena over at Savvy Verse & Wit has been hosting a blog tour in honor of it.
I was interested in taking part, but I've never much fancied poetry and didn't know how to approach it. So I asked Serena if she would take part in a little poetry Q&A with me. I wanted to learn something from it and hope you will too!
On a side note: after visiting all of the stops on the Poetry Month blog tour, I have to say that my poetry fear is much alleviated! If you currently possess the same poetry apprehension as me, I highly encourage you to visit some of the stops on the tour.
And now...here's the Q&A with Serena!
*How do you define poetry? What is it to you?
Poetry is any short piece with lyrical beat, rhyme, or other musicality with a reliance on imagery and narrative to express an over-arching emotion or truth about the human condition or to tell a story. Now that was a long answer that could also describe a piece of prose, though in general I would say that poetry has lines and stanzas rather than paragraphs. Or you can go with this definition.
*As a fan of poetry, do you find you gravitate towards similar types, or do you dabble?
I actually dabble. I really love reading new poetry, and all kinds. After reading it, though I sometimes find that I don't like certain poems or poets, though I recently discovered through Rhapsody in Books' National Poetry Month Blog Tour stop that I had missed out on some enjoyable poems by Yeats.
*Do you think there is an enjoyment that comes about from being able to create your own imagery?
The enjoyment of poetry stems from its unique use of images to create a story or emotion, etc., but by showing rather than telling in the strictest sense. In a way, these short verses and images provide readers with a greater opportunity to interpret, riff off of, and extrapolate their own experiences and previous experiences in connection with that of the poet. I often find that poetry reminds me to see the similarities in all of us and provides me with a deeper understanding of humanity.
*Remember those shoebox dioramas we made as kids? They are small and intimate, requiring the viewer to get close in order to actively engage the scene. What poem would transform well into that type of 3D representation?
"Facing It" by Yusef Komunyakaa :
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way -- the stone lets me go.
I turn that way -- I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
All you would need is to create a reflective black granite wall with Vietnam wall memorial names (not sure what material you could use; I haven't done these in ages) and a cloud with raindrops (probably a cotton ball), a cotton ball that is stretched into a smoke, etc.
*How were you introduced to poetry?
I received my first book of poetry from my grandmother many years ago after she found me looking through a poetry book in the library. I think it was Silverstein, and then I bought my own book of love poems. I was hooked ever since.
*What poet best reflects who you are?
I'm not sure there is a particular poet that reflects me. I really do enjoy William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Kay Ryan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney, Ted Kooser, and this list could go on and on...
*You previously stated: "The enjoyment of poetry stems from its unique use of images to create a story or emotion, etc., but by showing rather than telling in the strictest sense." I love this idea! If you were to choose one of your favorite poems and represent it with images instead of words, what would it look like?
"Screen Porch" by Fred Marchant from Full Moon Boat (which I reviewed here. Photo courtesy of Cris Agusto-Cox)
Summer nights I loved the cool pillow
as it settled into dampness,
the city noise as it dwindled,
the smell of plants, lights in the apartment
across the street going out. Crickets.
First light had to be inferred from shadows
slipping off locusts, and tall wild sumacs,
from wet sparkles in the mesh,
a daddy longlegs looking right at you.
*What are some of the terms used to discuss poetry?
Many terms related to poetry forms, whether the poem is free verse, sonnet, haiku, villanelle, or limerick, etc. Other terms are similar to those in prose, such as simile, metaphor, etc. But then there are enjambed lines, verse, stanza, couplet, etc., which are all specific to poetry for the most part. Check some of these terms at Word Lilly.
*As a beginner delving into the world of poetry, what poet would you recommend checking out first?
Some of the poets I recommend to beginners are Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Kay Ryan.
*It's Halloween! Your plan is to dress up like a certain poet and spend the evening wandering around muttering lines indicative of their work. Who do you portray?
I would dress up as Edgar Allan Poe...who better to portray for Halloween -- he's creepy looking and his poetry is equally creepy.
Serena, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to answer my questions!