Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Some people love poetry. I love the idea of poetry. The romantic notion of it. The undying love. The ache of the starving artist. The quiet power. The angst. Some people get poetry, they understand it. I don't think I've ever understood anything about it. I don't know what's good or bad and I'm not sure I care. I do know what I like. I'm more impressed by the idea that someone would bare their soul in such a way more so than the quality in which they do it.
This is what I thought passed for poetry back in the day.
"The Field"

A sea of goldenrod.
Distant, charming white farmhouse direct
 from an English painting.
Reality does not live here.
Dry cornstalks sprout from the ground
 like old bones.
Grasshoppers flutter like a madman's brains.
Smell the earth.
Wind makes the surrounding trees speak.

But I don't know anything about poetry. Clearly.

This poem was used in a grade 12 english assignment with the homeslice Karen at Ow, my angst and a third girl we know. I remember the third girl NOT liking the poem so much. I however love it.

A Women's Issue 
by Margaret Atwood

The woman in the spiked device
that locks around the waist and between
the legs, with the holes in it like a tea strainer
is Exhibit A.

The woman in black with a net window
to see through and a four-inch
wooden peg jammed up
between her legs so she can't be raped
is Exhibit B.

Exhibit C is the young girl
dragged into the bush by midwives
and made to sing while they scrape the flesh
from between her legs, then tie her thighs
till she scabs over and is called healed.
Now she can be married.
For each childbirth they'll cut her
open, then sew her up.
Men like tight women.
The ones that die are carefully buried.

The next exhibit lies flat on her back
while eighty men a night
move through her, ten an hour.
She looks at the ceiling, listens
to the door open and close.
A bell keeps ringing.
Nobody knows how she got here.

You'll notice that what they have in common
is between the legs. Is this
why wars are fought?
Enemy territory, no man's
land, to be entered furtively,
fenced, owned but never surely,
scene of these desperate forays
at midnight, captures
and sticky murders, doctors' rubber gloves
greasy with blood, flesh made inert, the surge
of your own uneasy power.

This is no museum.
Who invented the word love?

This poem is good because I was told it was good. We studied it in a grade 12 creative writing class. Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. I did enjoy it. I especially enjoyed the way the teacher presented it with passion. Yelling out the 'rage' parts and all. There were many giggles over it really. I also remember he claimed to be an extra at the end of the movie 'Silence of the Lambs'. I had attended a lecture given by Mordecai Richler and had a book signed for the same teacher.

This was my high school yearbook quote.

I saw a creature, naked, bestial who
squatting upon the ground held a heart
in his hands and ate of it.
I asked "Is it good friend?"
He said "It is bitter, bitter but I like it
because it is bitter and because it is my heart."

by Stephen Crane

Like all art, poetry is very personal.

What makes your soul say YES?


  1. ooh, that wacky Maggie Atwood! She'd be a RIP at a party, wouldn't she? Oh man, now I kinda remember that poem! It made me cringe the whole way through, but isn't that what decent 'art' is supposed to do?

    I too remember our teacher reading the Dylan Thomas poem the way it was meant to be read. It made quite an impression on me. I liked the Romantic poets when I was learning them in 19th century lit: Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Christina Rosetti...etc. One of my favourite poems of all is Mariana In The Moated Grange by Tennyson.
    Have you read any Sylvia Plath? Or Emily Dickinson?

    Here's a goody: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=8670

    I'm nutty for the poetry. I could go on and on. One day my diskette effed itself, and could no longer be read. Tons of poems I'd written were on there. Luckily they're still here, there and everywhere, on little scraps of paper. I even had a poem published in Poetry Canada, which was a highlight! Then my Mom died and I am incapable of writing it any longer for some reason.

  2. 303 (by Emily Dickinson)

    The Soul selects her own society -
    Then - shuts the Door -
    To her divine Majority -
    Present no more -

    Unmoved - she notes the Chariots -pausing -
    At her low Gate -
    Unmoved - an Emperor be kneeling
    Upon her Mat -

    I've known her - from an ample nation -
    Choose One -
    Then - close the Valves of her attention -
    Like Stone -

  3. Wow you sure do!! I like it but I don't think I get it :/