Friday, June 16, 2017

Getting Poetry


Yesterday, I was delighted to learn from the Academy of American Poets that they now have an embed feature on their website Poetry.org. This means a poem that appears on their site may be shared on other websites. Thank you to those at the Academy responsible for this courtesy. Below is another excerpt from my personal anthology.

“What He Thought”
Heather McHugh

This poem begins with assumptions – “Of all he was the most politic--/and least poetic-- /so it seemed…” – and changes to enlightenment crystallized in its last two lines. McHugh uses enjambments to keep the poem moving forward and line breaks and parenthetical asides to cause pauses and emphasis. For example: “(we’d all put down our forks by now, to listen to/the man in gray; he went on softly)-- poetry” and the very last line of the poem is a one line stanza.

Except for fellow poets and several friends, people regard my writing poetry as some sort of hobby, like gardening or decoupage. In a culture as embroiled in consumerism and celebrity mania as America is, poetry is greatly undervalued. It is often thought of as something English majors and academics are fond of. It’s disheartening when I hear someone say “Poetry isn’t for me,” “I just don’t get poetry,” or “Are you still writing poetry?” But the next time someone looks askance when I say poetry matters, I’ll suggest they read Heather McHugh’s stunning poem.