The first book of poems I ever actually bought was the Modern Library edition of the Collected Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. During the same wild spending spree I also bought, The Interpretation of Dreams, by Freud. Within the same general time frame I went to the local (Oceanside, California) library and checked out a book entitled something like, The Gospel of Matthew, more or less. Poe won!!! I read and re-read those poems. I was somewhere along the high school journey but the lyric was something I could take into my introverted (and shy) self, enjoy, and not tell anyone else. I couldn’t tell anyone else!! I was a male, in high school, a shy distance runner, and the mystery and POWER of the lyric (song) Poe presented was a wonder. I loved running (it was technically an obsession, I suppose), can’t do it anymore because I did too much of it in my life – you can take that as a metaphor if you wish – but still love to watch runners…the flow, the magic of human movement, the legs, the arms, like bits and pieces of the lyric poem. I read Poe and found bits and pieces of my body embracing and feeling empowered. I have nothing against the epic, narrative poems, but I am thankful to Poe and the other writers over the years who have empowered my imagination and grabbed my throat with lines like: “…come celebrate/with me that everyday/something has tried to kill me/and has failed.” — Lucille Clifton
What are you reading? I have just finished reading Mark Doty’s, FIRE TO FIRE. Great book. Now reading Gish Jen’s, TIGER WRITER, print version of the Massey lectures she gave last year at Harvard. Really enjoying the book. She is an amazing writer, intellectual, and humorist.