April is National Poetry Month. Until recently, I felt that poetry was unnecessary, simply because I thought you could communicate any idea better with prose. But, as you get older, I guess you start to have more of an appreciation for these kinds of things- like fine wine, quality clothing, and poetry. At any rate, I find myself gravitating toward more lyrical styles now, and even liking poetry that I used to dislike.
But,classic poetry can be a little boring and hard to get into. This is mainly because in addition to trying to decipher the meaning of the phrases, you also have to decrypt the language itself. Combining the two efforts can be challenging. So, if you are new to poetry, or think you dislike all poetry, starting with modern writers is easier. You may not actually hate all poetry, but simply dislike classic poetry.
The following poems for poetry-haters may convert you to a poetry-lover before National Poetry Month is over.
This collection of poems from Patricia Lockwood is everything modern poetry should be. Her works are seeped in imagery, but easy to understand by modern society. Some of her poems have an almost narrative style and she communicates ideas and feelings with clever descriptions and sneaky wit.
My favorite line: “When you wake to the fact that you have a body, you will wake to the fact that not for long.”
Billy Collins is apparently, “the most popular poet in America” according to The New York Times. His style is simple, elegant, and sweeter than many poets of the day, which makes them more accessible, and maybe even better. You don’t always have to be depressing to be a good poet!
My favorite line: “It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.”
In “My Dead,” Amy Lawless presents a somewhat philosophical look at death and what it means to be alive. Her style is quite similar to prose, and even I, who tend to rush through poetry (which pretty much ruins it), was able to take the time to examine the content. Her rhythms are similar to prose, making this collection ideal for those new to poetry.
My favorite line: “Like it would matter now, if he had known one more thing as an alive person.”
In a shameless rip-off of the movie and other bits of pop culture, Michael Robbins has created a collection of poems that are unique and masterpieces of literature. The collection won Book of the Year from numerous places, including Slate and The New York Times. I think this review from The New York Times says it best, “”Mr. Robbins’s heart is not lovely but beating a bit arrhythmically; not dark but lighted by a dangling disco ball; not deep but as shallow and alert as a tidal buoy facing down a tsunami. Yet it’s a heart crammed full, like a goose’s liver, with pagan grace. This man can write.” On the other hand, a negative reviewer called it a “word salad.”
My favorite line: “My tenders throw hissy fits.”
Not all poetry is written. You may not realize it, but many songs today are more poetry than anything. Some of my favorite singing poets are listed below:
Johnny Flynn credits much of his writing style to old American folk singers like Bob Dylan. He creates sort of ballad songs, which are as poetic as any written poetry out there. His songs cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from classic love to the disillusionment of religion.
My favorite line: “Your life might be a mess of lights when you’re on your own, but the lights you’ll see form a line that’ll be pointing all the way home.”
I feel like every song that Mumford and Sons comes out with is worthy of being put into any poetry collection. Their songs always combine elements of longing, loss, and trying to make a connection with a God who may or may not exist.
My favorite line: “It’s not the long walk home that will change your life, but the welcome I receive with a restart.”
I don’t usually expect hard rock singers to really have thought and poetry behind their words, but Chevelle is a master of crafting beautiful word-play worthy of any poetry collection. If you don’t ordinarily like their style of music (or if you can’t understand it, sometimes I can’t), just look up the lyrics online. Many of their songs are hauntingly beautiful.
My favorite line (from the newest album): “Moonlight, a superstitious glow, if it’s my time, well I’m going out alone.”
Another favorite line: “Come, Enter the foreign. Face, All that’s shameful.” Of course, until just now, I thought they said “forest,” sot it always pays to double-check the words. 🙂
What are your favorite poetry singers/writers? Do you go for the macabe poetry or a happier feeling?