Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And yet more poetry...to celebrate National Poetry Month

The Complete Poems of Hart Crane
One of the major American poets of the 20th Century, Crane's syntax and rhyme structure were innovative and sometimes consciously regressive, looking back to earlier verse traditions, even while addressing modernity itself. Here he describes the quintessentially modern art-form:

"I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen"
Find it in the catalog!

Twenty Poems - Pablo Neruda
This book is by no means a broad introduction to the prolific Chilean writer's oeuvre, but rather an introduction to particular aspects of his work. The twenty poems collected here are nearly all, in one way or another, about love and longing. Neruda's more topical, and sometimes explicitly socialist, poetry is essential reading. But there's something to be said for the deceptive simplicity and almost overwhelming awareness of the poems collected in this volume.

"...and the young wives who have been pregnant for thirty hours,
and the hoarse cats that cross my garden in the dark,
these, like a necklace of throbbing sexual oysters,
surround my solitary house,
like enemies set up against my soul,
like members of a conspiracy dressed in sleeping clothes
who give each other as passwords long and profound kisses."
Find it in the catalog!

The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
Playful, erudite, often surreal, O'Hara's poems almost never go where you expect them to go. His mind wanders from painters and paintings, to personal acquaintances he may or may not like, to Hollywood actors and actresses, to what's in the news on a given day. And everything he writes about - mundane or sublime - is made distinctive, even fascinating by the poet's description.

"Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they've always talked about

still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are here with us everyday
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They're strong as rocks."
Find it in the catalog!

Chicago Poems - Carl Sandburg
One of Sandburg's earliest books of poetry, and the source of Chicago's enduring nickname, "City of Big Shoulders." Written while working as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, the poems collected in this slender volume are tender, powerful paeans to America's working class.

"I sat with a dynamiter at supper in a German saloon,
eating steak and onions.
And he laughed and told stories of his wife and children
and the cause of labor and the working class.
It was laughter of an unshakable man knowing life to be
a rich and red-blooded thing."
Find it in the catalog!

The Poems of Dylan Thomas
I've heard it said that poetry should be read aloud if it's to be fully appreciated. Along with Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas is a poet whose work fairly demands vocal recitation. His poem "Fern Hill" is an evocative description of time's inevitable theft of childhood.

"Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea."
Find it in the catalog!