A few weeks ago, we dared poetry-avoidant Nancy Franson to read a poem a day and share her experience with us. To sweeten the deal, we arranged for Nancy to have a Poetry Buddy, someone who would read along with her, let her ask questions along the way. Megan Willome shares her side of the Poetry Dare experiment today.
My official title for Operation Poetry Dare: Poetry Buddy.
My partner: Nancy Franson.
When Tweetspeak proposed this project, I was relieved I wouldn’t have to draw from my extensive poetry knowledge (which I lack). All I had to do was read a poem a day from Every Day Poems and discuss it.
The arrangement between Nancy and me is simple. Each of us reads the poem and then sends the other an email saying what we think or anything we notice. Or really, anything at all. I’ve encouraged Nancy to read the poem first — not my email — so my impressions don’t count for too much. When she began to express different opinions from mine, I knew we were on the right track.
After about a month, Nancy wrote, “You clearly love poetry, and I’ve been wondering how that happened. How did you fall in love with poetry?”
Well, uh. Hmm.
I don’t think I loved poetry in high school, although I did write some bad poems. I had a wonderful professor in college who was passionate about Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, but I can’t say I got into it then either.
It happened in 2002, when I started writing again, when my oldest went to kindergarten and my youngest went to preschool. Someone said all writers need a ritual. I decided mine would be tea and The Writer’s Almanac.
That’s it. I’ve been reading a poem a day for 12 years. (Now, I usually read two or three.)
I’ve had a subscription to Every Day Poems since it launched, but I didn’t always read carefully. There were a couple of months I didn’t read them at all. But doing Operation Poetry Dare with Nancy makes me read each poem several times. Tania Runyan got me reading them aloud. Too often in the past, it was easy to just like the ones I liked. Now, because I have to comment on every single poem, I try a little harder. And when I do, sometimes a poem surprises me.
Like Time of Need, a poem about a girl dragging a dead dog. I told Nancy it was good, but not a keeper. By the time I’d finished my email, noting the line breaks and several phrases I thought were interesting, I was printing the darn thing to save forever in my poetry scrapbook.
Yes, of course I have a poetry scrapbook.
Nancy and I have been close friends for a couple of years. We know one another’s angst, but sharing a poem a day gives us extra insight into each other. When we traded emails on Visiting Amber, all I wrote was, “I really can’t handle this one.”
Nancy wrote back, “Yep. I was afraid it might hit you like that.” And then she went on to help me see what was good in that gut-wrenching poem.
That’s what a poetry buddy is for.
Follow the rest of Nancy and Megan’s journey in Operation Poetry Dare:
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