Favourite Poems: January 2018

(It’s still January, in my head).

This year, I’ve decided to read a poem a day. It gets difficult to quantify, sometimes, mainly because a) I’m exploring what’s poetry supposed to mean, and b) I like reading poetry collections.

But, since I am doing this for myself, and I am too lazy to think of things to blog about (unless you read my poetry blog where I post more often) I thought hey, why not combine the two, and compile a list of great poems I’ve read every month!

The idea for this series is for me to post at least four poems (one poem/week) that I thought were great every month. This way I can keep a check on myself (with respect to reading) and have something to blog about. (Please expect a nostalgic/sentimental post soon about blogging soon (that could mean months)).

For now, here’s a list for January:

1) Walking with Eliza, by Jeffrey Harrison

What I loved about this poem is that it’s about the love between a father and a daughter. It’s full of the kind of nostalgia that makes you yearn. For what? I don’t know. The poem is an invitation to Harrison’s mind. It’s as if he says, Look what I’ve discovered. Isn’t it so strange, so beautiful?

Here’s an excerpt from the poem:

I comment on how strange the weather is,
as if the day can’t decide whether it wants
to rain or be sunny—and then on how funny
it is that we say things like that, as if the day
had feelings. I ask her if they’ve talked about this
in English class, and she says, “You mean
personification?” and I say yeah, deciding
to spare her the term “pathetic fallacy,”
another rule about how we’re supposed to think,
a censoring of the imagination.

Here’s a link to the poem, if you want to read it: http://www.versedaily.org/2014/walkingwitheliza.shtml

2) Ode to Patrick Swayze, by Tishani Doshi

Everyone who’s watched Dirty Dancing probably has had a little crush on Patrick Swayze. It seems like Doshi’s “sexual awakening” (cringing at this phrase), and probably her first crush was him. But can you complain?

She writes:

At fourteen I wanted to devour you, the twang, the strut, the perfect proletarian butt in the black pants of you. I wanted a man like you to sashay into town and teach me how to be an aeroplane in water. I didn’t want to be a baby. I wanted to be your baby. I wanted revenge. I wanted to sue my breasts for not living up to potential. I wanted Jennifer Grey to meet with an unfortunate end and not have a love affair with a ghost

This poem makes you miss having your first crush- the magic of wanting to be with someone like Johnny Castle- of wanting to be taught how to be an aeroplane in water

Read Tishani’s amazing collection Girls are Coming out of the Woods here.

3) Unnamed poem by Gulzar.

Sometimes I read translated works, and wish I could understand the language in its entirety to appreciate its literature. This poem made me wish I paid more attention in my Hindi classes. The translation (Translator unknown) reads:

A poem
entangled in my chest,
lines
fastened on my lips,
words
like butterflies
won’t sit still on paper.
I sit
for so long
with your name
on this blank paper.
Your name
just your name exists;
could there be
a better poem?

Read the original and the translation here

4)The Aliens by Charles Bukowski

The seemingly “normal” is so the opposite of normal sometimes, no? This poem gripped me and then let me go so abruptly, that I had to re-read it a few times to feel better (and worse, because I wish I could write like that).

you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction or
distress.
they dress well, eat
well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
life.
they have moments of
grief
but all in all
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy
death, usually in their
sleep.
you may not believe
it
but such people do
exist.
but I am not one of
them.
oh no, I am not one
of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of
them
but they are
there
and I am
here.

Read it here

Which of these did you like the most? Which is your favorite poem of all time? Let me know.

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