A few of the books I enjoyed reading, or rereading, in January 2019:
- Patrizia Cavalli’s My Poems Won’t Change the World: a selection of Cavalli’s poems from 1974’s My Poems Won’t Change the World through to 2006’s Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate, edited by Gini Alhadeff, with translations from the Italian by Alhadeff, Jorie Graham, Kenneth Koch, Susan Stewart, and Mark Strand (poetry: Penguin, 2007).
- Pablo Neruda’s The Captain’s Verses (Los versos del Capitán): translated from the Spanish by Donald D. Walsh (poetry: New Directions, 1972).
- Autumn Royal’s She Woke and Rose (poetry: Cordite Publishing, 2016).
- Clare Nashar’s Lake (poetry: Cordite Publishing, 2016).
- John G. Trapani Jr’s Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation: The Complete Aesthetics of Jacques Maritain (philosophy: Catholic University of America Press, 2011).
- Albert Camus’ Selected Essays and Notebooks (essays: Penguin Books, 1970).
- Franz Wright’s Earlier Poems: a selection of Wright’s poems from 1982’s The One Whose Eyes Open When You Close Your Eyes through to 1995’s Rorschach Test (poetry: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007).
A few practical ideas for getting (a little more) poetry into day-to-day life:
- Keep a book of poems on your bedside table. Reading a poem or two at bedtime is a vastly better prospect than falling asleep halfway through the next chapter of that novel you’re reading. A poem or two is a perfect nightcap for those who sleep alone; for those who don’t sleep alone, there’s Pablo Neruda’s The Captain’s Verses (Los versos del Capitán), a collection of the 20th century’s most ecstatic and passionate love poems.
- Keep a book of poems on your coffee table, or wherever it is you sit down to drink your cup of daily grind. Poetry is a perfect companion for good coffee, good food, good wine and good company, even if ‘company’ means a few quiet moments by yourself.
- Print out a favourite poem and put it on your fridge.
- Carry a small book of poems with you. You’ve got a spare minute or two? Your lunch date is running late? Why pull out your phone, when you can flip open a book of poems instead?
- Use poems as part of your mindfulness practice. Read a poem. Be attentive to the words: their meanings, their sounds, their feel in your mouth, the rhythm of your breath, the resonances or reminiscences, the textures of the book or page… Choose a word or phrase that speaks to you. Carry that word or phrase with you during your day.
- Write a few lines from your favourite poem or song on a bookmark.
- Read a poem to your kids at bedtime. Anyone for Dr Seuss? All those nursery rhymes you remember from your childhood? They’re all poems.
- Sign up for Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day. We’re all busy people: why not have poems sent straight to your device of choice? The Poetry Foundation site has a wealth of resources, including poems for children and teens, audio poems, information about poets and schools of poetry, collections of poems by theme, and guides for poetry newcomers.
- If you’re keen on Australian poetry, try the Australian Poetry Library. The poems can be browsed for free. The site also enables you to save poems to a personal selection, which you can download or email for a small copyright fee. The poems are searchable by title, author, theme and form. Looking for somewhere to start? Try the poems of David Malouf, Judith Beveridge or Thomas W. Shapcott.
As an aside, it was nice to be mentioned in a recent review of Inkerman & Blunt’s Australian Love Poems. The anthology, which was edited by poet Mark Tredinnick, was relaunched in 2014 and reviewed by Tric O’Heare for Daily Review for Valentine’s Day this year. My poem Nothing Doing is among those published in the book.
- O’Heare, T, 2015, St Valentine’s Day Books: Better than a Box of Chocolates, Daily Review, 5 February 2015, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/st-valentines-day-books-better-than-a-box-of-chocolates/18509>
- Tredinnick, M, 2014, Australian Love Poems, Inkerman & Blunt, Carlton South (Vic).