Waxing Poetic

I’ve been teaching some poetry lately, and it has reminded me of how much I love this stuff. I go back to my literary roots, the years I spent studying all kinds of different poetry and prose, and a stirring starts somewhere deep within my soul. I can’t write a great poem to save my life, but I want to and I know that I’m not going to get any better spending lots of time not writing.

I honestly had to study poetry a good bit before I appreciated the simplicity and passion that one poem can encompass. My favorites are the playful ones, though, ones that mess with language and sounds in a way that is refreshing and moving and fun. Sometimes some of my favorites are the cold ones, poems that say what I would not dare.

In this vein, I am going to recommend some of my favorites for your reading and listening pleasure—remember that half of poetry is hearing it read out loud.

Sharon Olds- I Go Back to May 1937

William Carlos Williams- This Is Just To Say  (The radio broadcast and podcast, This American Life, does a fantastic piece about this poem which you can listen to here.) 

Langston Hughes- Winter Moon

Starting in just a few days, The Bookworm in Beijing will be holding their annual Literary Festival. Many of the events are already sold out, but do check out what’s still available. I am reminded of how many amazing writers inhabit this city, and it makes me totally ashamed to not be in better contact with them.

Finally, for those of you who aren’t much for words, here’s a video that I can only consider musical poetry. It’s amazing and brings out my desire to do something beautiful, something uniquely cool.  Those not in China may want this link instead. Sidenote: Kevin Olusola actually studied in China a few years back and appeared on the famed Chinese New Year TV special. Expats rock!

What are your favorite poems? Do you have poetic moments in China? Where do you find an outlet for your literary itch?

And maybe the most fun: Write your own imitation of This is Just To Say, specifically related to expat life in Beijing. Leave it in the comments for us all to enjoy.

  • Kara March 5, 2012, 1:06 PM

    Here are a couple I thought of…

    This Is Just To Say

    I have eaten
    the Girl Scout Cookies
    from the freezer

    and which you were
    probably saving
    for a homesick moment

    forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet and so cold

    This Is Just To Say

    I pretended not to understand
    when you told me
    I would need to wait in line

    you were probably
    sick of dealing with
    people like me

    forgive me
    I was so tired
    and it was IKEA
    on a Sunday

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