Literary Resolutions: Poetry!
My primary advice for getting into poetry is this: don’t be satisfied. Read widely. There is poetry for everyone, and eventually you’ll hit upon something that seizes even you. It will make you reconsider certain things. It will seem almost familiar. You’ll know you’ve found it when you go to read it again. And again. And then the ground opens up underneath you, and you go willingly in search of more.
Read this if you want to know where American poetry all started. Seriously, this is quintessential stuff.
Read this if you like your poetry more on the philosophical side, and to see how a great poet builds a whole metaphysical framework for existence. But also! He’s weird! He’s meticulous! He’s funny!
I can’t say it better than the writer Allen Tate: “Crane was one of those men whom every age seems to select as the spokesman of its spiritual life.” A pivotal, apocalyptic, provocative poet.
Read this because collections of multiple poets are invaluable (go in search of them!). They’re a marvelous way to explore poetry. Plus, Edward Hirsch (the editor) is great . Check out his other work, How to Read Poetry and Fall in Love with Poems
Read this because career retrospectives are super interesting, especially in the case of Louise Gluck who is one of the greatest living poets currently writing. She is titanic in her influence and scope. Start with this collection, or just jump into any of her books (try The Wild Iris)
Read this if you want to see what contemporary poetry is capable of. Read this if you enjoy science fiction, astronomy, or David Bowie. Read this to see how all those things (and more) might intersect and influence the metaphors we experience love, pain, and death with.
Read this if you think you don’t like sonnets, or if you want to be eviscerated, or if you want to see what a modern masterpiece looks like.
Sylvia Plath is the patron saint of dark emotional poetry, but don’t let that turn you off. Like all true saints, she suffered for the nightmares and dreams she’s chosen to show us, and we’re better for it.
Read this to understand, even a little, the current political, metaphysical, social, emotional epoch we find ourselves living in right now. A remarkable, angry, lyrical, and devastating collection.
Read this if you don’t believe in magic.
Read this for the clever and intensely beautiful language, stay for the evocative inner life, the emotional upheavals, and the bittersweet queer coming-of-age story.