Spin Sucks has been having entirely too much fun celebrating fiction. I’ve enjoyed the celebration – I enjoy fiction – but I feel as though poets and poetry need some attention. Thus, I’m writing my own post about poetry and posting it here.
I know it’s unrealistic to expect many people to begin to read poetry simply because I say poetry can help a person to become a better writer and communicator. I’m biased, possibly even prejudiced. I know, though, that my relationship with poetry has altered the way I view communications and the way I write.
It’s a struggle to decide who to include on my list. I know that some of the poets listed may be challenging for the uninitiated. Some of those poets are still challenging to me, and I’ve been reading their work for a couple of years. For me, that’s part of the joy found in poetry. Poetry requires creative and analytical thinking. It typically isn’t meant for “cruise control” reading. Without further ado, my list of eight poets for communicators:
- Sappho. Specifically, Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho. Sappho does more with a fragment than some writers do with ten thousand words.
- Vasko Popa. Popa has an obsession with objects. Those objects – stones, bones, wolves – take on lives of their own. His work features terse wording and lines. If brevity is the soul of wit, Popa has it in spades.
- Paul Celan. I never tire of Paul Celan’s poetry or his essays. His work features word play and a strong tendency toward silence. His work reminds me of how words interact with the white space as well as how words sometimes are insufficient.
- Yannis Ritsos. Ritsos is another object-oriented poet, but his style almost is the complete opposite of Popa’s. Ritsos’ language is rich. The lines often are lengthy. He’s a Greek poet, and he often retells some of the Greek myths. The objects found in his poems tend to have a relationship with an actual person.
- Emily Dickinson. Dickinson has to be included on the list. Her language is beautiful. And the dash? She knows how to use it.
- Shakespeare. Yes, the bard. How could I not include him? Do I need to say anything else? His work speaks for itself.
- Rumi. Sensual language? Yes. The merging of the spiritual and the secular? Again yes. It’s impossible to read Rumi’s work without feeling a response to it or, at the very least, admiring his passion.
- Shel Silverstein. I know Silverstein might not be part of the poetry canon, but I love his work. I think it has to do with the fact that most of his work is illustrated. His books showcase the way art and words should work together.
Which poets are your favorites? Know of a poet I should be reading? If you read or write poetry, how has it affected how you communicate and think about communications?