Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poetry Friday: Thinking About Poetry

One of my goals this year was to read more poetry written for adults. I finished Jane Kenyon's Constance today. What I liked most about this collection is that I connected with the poems about losing loved ones. There were also many poems about her depression. I've been there many times so I could feel her words.

I'm also a little concerned that I didn't "get" some of the poems. That happens to me sometimes.
Maybe my mind isn't deep enough to understand. It always reminds me of how it was in school. I never seemed to get the meaning right, at least not the meaning the teacher/professor said was right. I guess I'm not someone who likes to pick a poem apart and try to analyze it like it's some scientific theory that needs to be debated and proven.

I never thought I actually liked poetry until I became a mother and teacher. That's when I first met Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, Gary Soto, and all the poets I've come to love (too many to name here).

As I write this post, I realize that I love music (county, rock, pop, soul, etc.), but I don't like every song I hear on the radio. So maybe it's okay if I don't get or even like every poem. Maybe it's more important that I have found poems that I love and carry with me.

One of my favorite poems from Constance is also the title of the final collection Jane worked on before her death, Otherwise. It reminds me to enjoy and appreciate what we have because nothing is forever.


I got out of bed

on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

Read the rest of the poem here.


  1. Linda,

    "Otherwise" is one of my favorite Kenyon poems. I also love "Let Evening C"--which I read at the funeral of my father-in-law.

    Wislawa Szymborska and Billy Collins are two of my favorite adult poets.

    I never appreciated adult poetry until after I got hooked on children's poetry. Two of Paul Janeczko's books helped introduce me to some wonderful adult poets--POETSPEAK and THE PLACE MY WORDS ARE LOOKING FOR.

  2. I really like Jane Kenyon, and this poem is so poignant and lovely.

  3. Elaine, I have both of Janeczko's books, and you're right, they are wonderful. I like Billy Collins too and Ted Kooser. I'm sure I've read at least one of Wislawa Szymborska's poems, but I'm going to look for more of her work.

    Janet, I'm rereading her collection "Otherwise", I read it a few years ago. I can really relate to so much of her writing.

  4. I have Otherwise. I love this collection and I know this piece. Thank you for another enjoyable read.