If you’re new to poetry and don’t know where to start

Thom Sullivan  Poet Poetry NaPoWriMo 14

If you’re new to poetry and don’t know where to start, try getting hold of an anthology of contemporary poetry from your local library or bookshop.

What is a poetry anthology? It’s a book that includes poems by a variety of poets, rather than just one poet. Anthologies often have a particular theme (e.g. Harbour City Poems: Sydney in Verse), or focus on a particular place and/or time (e.g. The Best American Poetry 2018, or The Forward Book of Poetry 2019), or present a survey of poetry over time (e.g. The Norton Anthology of Poetry, which includes poems in English from the 7th century to the present, or Australian Poetry Since 1788, or Puncher & Wattmann’s Contemporary Australian Poetry).

Why an anthology? Because an anthology includes poems by a variety of poets, though usually only one or two poems by each. This helps you get acquainted with a range of poems, in a range of styles, with a range of themes, and by a range of poets. It increases the likelihood you’ll come across poems you enjoy. As you read the anthology, trust your judgment on which poems you like or dislike, enjoy or don’t enjoy, are engaged by or not engaged by. Follow up on the poems you like best: see if you can find more poems by those poets online, or try getting hold of a book of poems specifically by that poet.

Why contemporary poetry? Because contemporary poetry, meaning poetry from the 20th and 21st centuries, generally uses words and syntax that are familiar to us – in contrast to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20, for example, which reads: ‘And for a woman wert thou first created, / Till nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting.’ There’s a good argument for reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, but if you’re new to poetry, why not start with something closer to home, in terms of what a poem describes and the way it uses language to describe it.

Poetry Reading: Payneham Library

Tom Thom Sullivan Poet Poetry Adelaide 001Next Sunday, 3 April 2016 I’m featuring as the guest poet at a Friendly Street Poets Community Reading at Payneham Library. Friendly Street, which has hosted poetry readings since 11 November 1975 (that infamous date) is supported in the event by the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters. I’ll be reading with Russ Talbot, Cary Hamlyn, David Mortimer, JV Birch and Louise Nicholas. The reading will run from 1:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m., and will include afternoon tea and an open mic session. Full details are available from Friendly Street’s events page.

I’m particularly delighted to be reading at what is my “home” library. At this stage, I plan to read previously unread and/or unpublished poems only, with a focus on suburban settings. Community readings at Payneham Library have been well supported by poets, audiences and the library in the past, so I offer every encouragement to come along and enjoy the afternoon.

Ref.