When I was a high school student, I used to wander the halls after school bullshitting with teachers, mainly English teachers. At the time, I used to say that was when my real daily education began.
I am thinking mainly of my last few years when I attended a brand spanking new school with a formidable array of newly hired talented teachers.
One of them used to pontificate at length about poetry, literature and what have you. I can’t remember this guy’s name, but I do remember one thing he said about poetry: that it was more essential and pertinent to life than what was in newspapers.
He was preaching to the converted when he talked to me. I loved poetry then and I love it now. I read it. I wrote it. I sent my poems to be considered for publication to many magazines and journals. I managed to get a few poems published. I even won a poetry contest with a pretty bad poem called “Dame Flint.”
I don’t remember when this passion began or even clearly understand its roots. My parents were not that fond of poetry.
I suspect a couple of things. When I was toddler there was a woman who “watched me” as we said. She was important in teaching me to see the beauty around me. Nature walks were part of the deal. I’m not sure I can actually remember this. Probably it is just my mother’s description later.
I trace my love of music and poetry possibly to this kind of eye opening guided perception as a child.
The other thing, oddly enough, is probably exposure to lots and lots of Bible. In my early youth this would mean, the King James translation which is indeed full of beauty and poetry.
I also suspect that my predilection to see life not as transaction (the pervasive point of view of my society) but as experience may relate directly to my early love poetry. In my case this experience is full and satisfying.
When I see art, music and poetry reduced to commodity I am saddened and if possible demur.
I was pleasantly surprised recently when looking at a new (to me) aggregate filter blog called 3quarksdaily.com. They occasionally feature a recommended poem along with their links.
That got me to thinking that I often use the internet not only as the greatest reference library imaginable
but as a source for new poems and new poetic thinking.
I know my brother has told me that he begins each day with a visit the Writer’s Almanac which features a daily poem.
I try to check it out daily. Also both of us make use of the Poetry Foundation site which features tons of poets and poems.
Historical poetry is rampant online. If I’m looking for a certain poem I often google the first couple of lines and can find the whole thing.
And then there are the free ebook websites which are good sources for out of copyright poetry. Manybooks.net is one that I use frequently but there are others.
My high school teacher’s comment about poetry and the newspaper has an element of truth to it. But it is also extreme and shortsighted. I need both poetry and the news. I need ideas and ideas explained and proposed. I need historical background and the results of scholarship.
For me, it’s all there on the interweb. Life is good.