I have been reading poetry lately. (Don’t judge me!)
It’s rather shockingly helped, where practically nothing has. Maybe it’s simply because poetry is rather flexible to interpretation. It’s pretty easy to read a poem and somehow make it about me (narcissistic, are we? maybe a little).
In particular, I’ve been reading The Art of Losing, a collection of poems put together by Kevin Young. I recommend it 100 x 1 kazillion (yes, one whole kazillion). I consider myself at a fourth-grade reading level when it comes to poetry. I pretty much stopped at Shel Silverstein’s books and never progressed much further than that. But, as mentioned above, I find that I’m more often than not finding solace in some of these poet’s poetic poetry. I haven’t finished it yet for a few reasons – (1) I usually start crying; (2) I am trying to become a better reader/writer, which means I now read with a dictionary – so looking up words now and then slows things down a bit; and (3) I try to re-read them. Sometimes, I just blow through a poem if it seems uninteresting at the moment and really don’t give it the time/attention it deserves. So, the next time I pick up the book, I go back and re-read most of everything I read before and really have picked up on a lot more by doing that.
In the introduction to the book, the collector of this collection Kevin Young writes about the grief process: “…it brings out the best in us, and at times the worst, if only because it is utterly human. It can feel inevitable, but is so personal, so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf. Yet poetry, like grief, can be the thing that bridges the gab between us, that brings us together and binds us.”
“…so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf.”
Exactly. I just…ugh, I don’t know Kevin Young, but I just am in awe that he can write that as if he’s inside my brain. It’s worded so perfectly…as it should be, I guess, from a renown poet. I couldn’t feel more alone in this, which seems so ridiculous as most people have lost someone close to them. But we do all react or handle or deal with this so completely differently that, in the end, we’re not going through the same thing at all.
I go to grief pages or forums or FB pages and I try – but I do not – connect with the postings. I do not want to see a kazillion smiling puppies and quotes of hope or about God. That just doesn’t work for me. This poetry book does, though. Partly, because Kevin Young seems to get it and has put together a collection of amazing poems that even poetry illiterates can read. And, unfortunately, he does get it because he lost his father. Humbug to life…or rather to death.
Reading this book has inspired a new found appreciation for poetry in me – so much so that I’ve tried to write my own (which is probably at an abysmal second-grade writing level). I’ll save you from it for now, but expect to see my attempts soon, typed, ever-so-diligently on this pretty little typewriter.