Last month, we read Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry: How to Keep, Save and Make Your Life With Poems together as a community in our book club. We wrapped up with a sense of wanting ongoing conversation, so last week we started an additional three weeks of being one another’s Poetry Buddy, creating a space together in the comment box to talk about a particular poem.
Shall I give you white currants?
I do not know why, but I have a sudden fancy for this fruit.
At the moment, the idea of them cherishes my senses,
And they seem more desirable than flawless emeralds.
Since I am, in fact, empty-handed,
I might have chosen gems out of India,
But I choose white currants.
Is it because the raucous wind is hurtling round the house-corners?
I see it with curled lips and stripped fangs, gaunt and haunting energy,
Come to snout, and nibble, and kill the little crocus roots.
Shall we call it white currants?
You may consider it as a symbol if you please.
You may find them tart, or sweet, or merely agreeable in colour,
So long as you accept them,
— Amy Lowell, from Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell
Now, flip to the end of The Joy of Poetry and read through Megan’s tips for How to Journal About a Poem. Last week, we featured the first three of her suggestions for those who don’t have the book handy, and here are a couple more (but do be sure to read the rest—they’re really terrific ideas):
How to Journal About a Poem (excerpt)
4) If you have a little poetry knowledge, don’t be afraid to use it. If you’re reading a sonnet, ask yourself whether it strictly follows sonnet form, or if it breaks it, why? Does that improve the poem or make it frustrating? If you can’t remember anything from your last poetry unit in middle school, then ignore this paragraph. No worries.
5) Let your mind wander as you write. Did the poem remind you of a memory? Did it make you think of a book you’ve read or a song you’ve heard? Did the speaker’s voice sound like someone you know? Did it offer comfort or insight into a particular situation in your life? Or—and this is just as valid a response—do you leave the poem wondering, “What was that all about?” Does it go in the category of Not For Me?
And then? Well, then meet us in the comment box. Be our Poetry Buddy and share your thoughts and ask questions about Lowell’s “White Currants.”
Check out our book club discussion of The Joy of Poetry
Photo by Kelli Matthews, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by LW Lindquist.
Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry—part memoir, part poetry reflections, part anthology—takes readers on a journey to discovering poetry’s purpose, which is, delightfully, nothing. “Why poetry?” Willome asks. “You might as well ask, why chocolate?” Poetry reflects nothing more and nothing less than the pure joy of living, loving, and being, in all of its confusion and wonder. Willome’s book will gently guide you to read, write, and be a little more human through language’s mystery and joy.
—Tania Runyan, author of How to Read a Poem: Based on the Billy Collins Poem “Introduction to Poetry”
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