Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poetry Month Challenge - Is that considered poetry?

Poetry. As I sit and stare with dread at the tome before me of Longfellow’s poems, I’m not sure I did the right thing by agreeing to give poetry a shot. But, it is poetry month and okay, maybe it’s not a tome…maybe it is really a rather short book of selected poems, but for me it doesn’t matter. With my reluctance to crack open the book and start reading poetry, it could be a tome.

Am I alone? I don’t think so. It isn’t that I don’t like poetry but I’m a story type of girl. I like fiction. A lot. I like memoirs or biographies – something that feels like there is a beginning, middle and end. For that reason, I thought I’d mention a few of the poems I really do enjoy. They also follow the story-like format which I prefer.

My first introduction to poetry was Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride (my reason for choosing the Longfellow tome, I mean, book). Every summer vacation, my Mom encouraged my brother and me to learn something new. One year, it was the State capitols, the next year, memorizing Paul Revere’s Ride. I have to admit, I enjoyed myself. It’s a story, combined with history and, *bonus*, it rhymes! That made it so much easier to memorize.

I find a lot of Longfellow’s poems follow this pattern. Many tell stories or are history and are quite easy and direct. Nothing too flowery or wordy for my taste and, did I mention that he often includes rhymes? Okay, in all seriousness, if you aren’t sure about poetry, I’d suggest giving Longfellow a try. And, if you’re not sure what to start with, try his poem Evangeline. It’s historical and local. That gives the poetry meaning to me, and it is told like a story.

I do, however, have two other favorites that I thought I’d mention. If you enjoy Loreena McKennitt’s music, than you are already fans of poetry. One of my favorite pieces performed by McKennitt is the Highwayman. While she does an amazing job setting this poem to music, many of you Anne of Green Gables fans will recognize this poem from the movie, where Anne recites this poem for the town. Romance readers as well as those who enjoy a good story should give this poem a try. It is, I believe, my favorite poem.

Finally, for those fans of Broadway musicals, there’s T.S. Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practice Cats. These are the poems used in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats.

Will I ever be a fan of poetry? Well, what makes a fan? Are some of you fans of Leonard Cohen? Much of his music is poetry. Perhaps you don’t want to read it, but we can listen to it and isn’t that amazing? While I am not a big fan of reading poetry, some of the most beautiful music consists of poems set to music. So, does that make me a fan of poetry? I think it does.

Keep an open mind next time someone asks you if you like poetry. You may like it more than you realize. I’m going to try. And, maybe I’ll even break open this collection of Selected Tales and Poems by Longfellow. It's April, it's poetry month. Get a little wild and crazy and give poetry a chance!

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