Wednesday, February 24, 2010

pretty words

Since I'm giving away a little poetry by the stunning, brilliant and feisty Nina Romano and a little $5 Starbucks gift card to enjoy with her work, I've got poetry on the brain.
(Don't forget--all you need to do to enter to win Coffeehouse Meditations and the $5 Starbucks card is leave a comment by Saturday!)

I treat poetry like seasoning as a reader--enough to spice things up, but too much makes me lose my taste. Garrison Keillor gives me a nice daily dose on The Writer's Almanac, though he could read the phone book and I'd sit listening with rapt attention. I'll indulge you today with two of my favorite poems and poets. The first I read as a schoolkid and I'm still struck by the direct way Gwendolyn Brooks describes these people--it's brief and haunting. The second is merely one of many brilliant poems by Pablo Neruda who I have loved for twenty years and if you've not yet watched Il Postino, you're missing out on cinematic awesomeness.

The Bean Eaters
by Gwendolyn Brooks

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

The Book of Questions, III
by Pablo Neruda
Translated by William O'Daly


Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain
Spill it, reader, who's your favorite poet?


  1. I'm a Shel Silverstein gal myself. My kids got so much amusement from his poems when they were little. Thinking of his works always brings back fun memories.

  2. My unwavering favorite:

    "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

    For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

    -Paul of Tarsus

  3. We're big fans of Shel Silverstein here. Otherwise, we're not all that into poetry.

    However, I will always remember the W.H. Auden poem quoted in the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral." So moving.

  4. My kids Love Shel Silverstein..I actually just gave my oldest my very own copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends from when I was his age! I haven't seriously read poetry since high school, but oh how I loved it back then!!! Mya Angelou...Emily contemplative yet soothing!

  5. I used to LOVE poetry. And then I took a poetry class in college and it was kind of ruined for me. I am finally starting to reconnect with it again.

    My favs are:

    Maya Angelou
    E.E. Cummings
    Ralph Waldo Emmerson
    Emily Dickenson
    Robert Frost

    Hmm. I think I've really missed them now that you mention it. ;)

  6. I don't have much experience with poetry--a lot of it I just don't 'get'. I do like Shel Silverstein. I'm also a big fan of rhyming. :)

  7. Not a big poetry fan, but I still love Shel to this day. I'm sure we have a book here somewhere and my kids are 26, 29 and 35!!

  8. Shel Silverstein. Seriously. And not just because I can't read adult poetry properly.

    D'oh, now I see that everyone else said the same thing as me. I thought I was being all original.

    Okay, I changed my mind. ee cummings. cuz i don't like caps either.

  9. This is a tough question. It's a toss-up between Ellen Kort and Billy Collins. Billy Collins has some of the funniest, yet straightforward poems ever. I heard him read his own work a few years ago: wonderful.

  10. Hi there, I found you via Amy Krouse Rosenthal's MISSion blog...did you see my comment/question back to you?

    Ironic that your most recent post is about poetry...I love poetry. Linda Pastan is a favorite of mine. Billy Collins, too. Have you read the poem by Mark Strand about eating poetry...It's delicious!

  11. Doesn't everyone love Shel? I am fond of Brian Andreas.

  12. Here is a Haiku I saw on a t-shirt:

    Haikus are easy
    But sometimes they don't make sense

    Well, it made me laugh!

  13. Oh, I love Pablo too! My favorite of his is "Ode to My Socks." Especially the last stanza:

    beauty is twice beauty
    and what is good is doubly good
    when it is a matter of two socks
    made of wool in winter.

    I'll add another amen for Shel Silverstein, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.

    Also Allen Ginsberg, John Keats, Wendell Berry and Seamus Heaney.

  14. There are so many poets I love, but I am very partial to Marge Piercy.

    Barbie Doll makes me want to cry every time I even think of it.


Spill it, reader.