Eating Poetry

Poet Mary Oliver reads poems to her dog.

Poet Mary Oliver reads poems to her dog.

Have you ever listened to a poet read their poetry aloud? They almost never read with dramatic flair. It’s like watching a chef taste a half-cooked dish, slowly savoring every flavor while contemplating if it might need a pinch more cardamom, a dash of vanilla.

Poetry is one of the rare things I love that I haven’t tried to turn into a career. It’s one of the few luxuries I allow my creative self. Sure, I’ve written some poems I like, and viewing the world through a poet’s eyes comes naturally to me. But I know it’s not my calling. Still, that doesn’t stop poetry from calling out to me, the siren song of well-chosen words winding around my consciousness.

I love the perfect surprise of a good poem; the startling turn of phrase that thrusts you inside a moment, a feeling, time or place. Poetry feels anarchic: from incisive cuts to wild hacking away at language, it creates a new form of communication both intuitive and bold. Poets allow their thoughts to float lazily down rivers, to climb tall trees and get a peek at a different horizon. Then they catapult into that horizon, just to see what happens.

The first lines of Mark Strand’s poem “Eating Poetry” read:

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth
There is no happiness like mine
I have been eating poetry.

Look past my gleeful glance, the joyous smile. Is that an ink stain streaked across my cheek?

  1. Very nice, Amy. Mary Oliver is one of my favorites. Gary Snyder. William Stafford. I’ll get a chance to read at the end of this month–first time. Will try to remember to relish each word.

  2. Dana Zook says:

    Beautiful Amy!

  3. Amy Rubinate says:

    Dana, you have to start reading your poetry to Lyla!

    Susie- where are you doing your reading (can we come?) Wouldn’t it be great if Dana and I could show up?

  4. Wonderful post, Amy. You are a poet even in your prose. I love the image and that fragment from the Mark Strand poem, which I’d never read. Now if I can just decide how to read line breaks when I’m reading a poem that appears in an audiobook.

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