Friday, July 6, 2012

The Poetry Project and Way Distant Future Blogger Meet Up

I'm so excited about The Poetry Project that Lu and Kailana are hosting!! I've loved poetry since I was 14. Yes I can trace it back to a specific age. But since blogging, my eyes have been opened to even more poets that have been introduced to me and I've discovered some poetry that I can't imagine life without now. When I heard about this project I thought of all of the amazing poetry it will bring into my life! Poetry is a totally different reading experience to me than a novel. It is more immediately emotional and I can often fall in love with a piece of poetry in mere seconds. You can visit Lu and Kelly's blogs to find out more about The Poetry Project! They're starting things off with a little questionnaire for everyone who wants to participate so here are my answers. Like I told them, I can't promise I'll participate every month, but I sure hope I do!

Why do you want to join The Poetry Project?
As I mentioned before, I absolutely love poetry. But I don't read enough of it. And I'm always looking to discover new poets. Poetry is normally hit or miss with me. It's rarely in the middle of the road. So I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to read more poetry, talk about it more, and discover new poets. 

Do you have a favourite poet?
Oh I do...Katrina Vandenberg. After reading her collection, Atlas, I was in love. I just recently read her collection The Alphabet Not Unlike the World and while not exactly like Atlas, it was still very good and had some new favorites in it. After reading Atlas, I felt that it had changed me as a person. So few books have that affect on me, but when they do, it's an amazing feeling. No other collection of poetry has moved me like hers has. I've given the book as a gift to so many people now that I don't even recall how many people I've given it to or who exactly I've given it to :p

Hopefully this will go longer than a year. Do you have any suggestions for themes?
I think it might be fun to read poetry from different decades? Or maybe from different centuries? It would be neat to compare poetry to the time in which it was written..what was going on in the world at the time...what was socially acceptable and what wasn't. How the poet was pushing the boundaries for their time and what they had to say about the goings on around them.

What are your experiences with poetry in the past? Have they been positive or negative?
They've been so very mixed. Like I said, with poetry I typically love it or hate it. There's rarely a middle ground with me. And this can really vary with authors too from collection to collection. Mary Oliver is a good example of this. I read one collection of hers and was so enamored by it and read another shortly after and just wasn't moved at all by it. It could definitely have to do with whatever I'm going through at the moment too. I started reading poetry when I was 14. I met this girl named Marcella who was 16 at the time and was this super duper hippie chick who loved Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and she introduced me to them and I felt like I had opened a door into this amazing world of endless surprises and people who kind of understood life as I saw it. I still love all three of those poets. I'm also first to admit that there is a lot of poetry that I just don't understand. And I know that poetry just isn't for me. I look for poetry that gives me an immediate response. Evokes an emotional reaction. I don't like poetry that I have to sit and study. It just doesn't work for me. Now there is some poetry (I think Vandenberg is a good example) where the message is not always clear right away, but the words that she uses, the imagery that she paints is so beautiful that you want to get lost in understanding it. That's very different and I do love poetry like that.

Tell us about a poem or poet that has had a profound effect on you. If you can't think of a poem, how about a song? Or a line from a story?

I'm going to stop pimping Vandenberg for a second here :p Because I could easily list a few of her poems. Instead I'll talk about Natasha Trethewey. I just finished her amazing, short collection, Native Guard, last night. It's such a beautiful, very haunting collection that looks at life in the deep south, the history of the deep south, the ugliness of it's past, the harsh endurance of those who were suffocated by slavery and prejudice, and the lingering effect on the culture that still exists. It was such an amazingly moving collection that I could see without a doubt why it won the Pulitzer Prize. It's only a short 51 pages, but I don't think many other people have portrayed a more honest depiction of the south's history. The opening poem of the collection was extremely moving:

Theories of Time and Space

You can get there from here, though
there's no going home.

Everywhere you go will be somewhere
you've never been. Try this:

head south on Mississippi 49, one-
by-one mile markers ticking off

another minute of your life. Follow this
to its natural conclusion - dead end

at the coast, the pier at Gulfport where
riggings of shrimp boats are loose stitches

in a sky threatening rain. Cross over
the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand

dumped on the mangrove swamp - buried
terrain of the past. Bring only

what you must carry - tome of memory,
it's random blank pages. On the dock

where you board the boat for Ship Island,
someone will take your picture:

the photograph - who you were -
will be waiting when you return.

What frustrates you about poetry or the way we talk about poetry?
I think the most frustrating thing about poetry is what I talked about earlier...when I read poetry that I just CAN'T for the life of me understand. This probably sounds like a pretty damn ignorant statement, but I can't enjoy that type of poetry. When I read, I'm a fairly surface type reader. Another ignorant statement, I know and not something I'm pretty proud of, but I love nothing more than to have some type of emotional reaction to what I'm reading. I like the here and now...not the studying and digging. I'm a very visceral type person when it comes to my reading.

Tell us something about yourself that has nothing to do with poetry!
Sure! This is actually a good segway into what I wanted to talk about next in this post :p I honestly feel like I have the best friends IN THE WORLD and I have no idea how I was lucky enough to happen upon them. And I'm talking about you guys. I'm going to put a page break here so that those who didn't want to read my answers to all of this stuff can read about that "future blogger meet up" thing I put in the title, but it's basically a continuation of this thought. All of you blogging friends reading this are these amazing friends that I'm talking about.


So I woke up this morning (or afternoon but who's counting) and went through my daily routine of checking email and checking twitter and I see that I have quite a few mentions on twitter! I started wondering what the hell that was all about. Well I start reading this conversation and I learn that my dear friends have been scheming plans for a possible/theoretical/dream blogger meet up! my house! My reaction? Complete excitement :p Seriously. I know you all were probably completely kidding and dreaming when y'all were talking about that, but it made me so happy to even THINK about getting together with all of my favorite blogging buddies and even MORE happy to even think about hosting everyone!! I'm not kidding guys...I have been making PLANS in my head all day. Of course, these plans would not happen until the way distant future.

I'm in an apartment right now and I absolutely ADORE this place and kind of never want to move from it. But at the same time, the amount of money that I'm throwing towards rent that could be going towards a mortgage kind of makes me sick. The apartment also has rules on how many guests I can have over due to parking restrictions/the noise factor, etc. So I SERIOUSLY want to have a big blogger get together here in the New Orleans area, but it's going to have to wait until I buy a house...which I AM actively trying to do. That was the whole point of me getting an apartment in the area of town I that I can scope out the area and find out where exactly I want to be.

SO, my question is...would anyone ACTUALLY be interested in like a 3 or 4 day weekend blogger meetup? When I do buy a house, it'll be about 40 minutes from downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. So I would be happy to have as many people who can cram themselves into my house stay over if they wanted to save money on hotel rooms! We could all cook and have wine at the house and lounge around and talk books all day! We could spend a day in the french quarter and a day uptown and I could bring everyone to the local indies :) We're probably talking late 2013 or sometime in 2014 here though, lol. I have to actually find a house and settle in first. So this is quite far off, but I thought it really would be fun to do something NOT tied in to BEA or ALA or any other convention or festival. What do you guys think?

Oh, and CARE will be bringing PIE!!! Isn't that reason enough to come??? She won't however be bringing lobster, but we can have crawfish instead :p Pretend they're mini lobster :p


Anonymous said...

OMG, I am so there. I'll start helping you plan, 'kay?

DesLily said...

lol.. i probably could only be there via skype! but getting together and meeting all those you talk to on the computer is an awsome idea.

Matt said...

I'm in! ;P

Andi said...

All over it!

Bellezza said...

First of all, thank you for posting about the poetry project. My experience with poetry is abysmal, and my knowledge of it pretty much boils down to remembering that Clinton gave Monica Lewinsky (and Hillary!) Whitman's Leaves of Grass. What a thoughtful guy.

I do like Robert Frost, but probably because I can understand him. I think.

As to your invitation for a book bloggers meeting, wouldn't that be fun?! I'd love to come tho' I may have to bring my husband and put him In a hotel while we all talk books. ;)

Snowball said...

Thank you for sharing.

There is soooooooo much poetry in the world, and you don't have to feel bad about not understanding all of it. Nobody does. (Even if they say they do!)

Find and share what you love. And there is a reason Natasha Trethewey is our new Poet Laureate! Her work is amazing.

Trish said...

First things first--I'm totally in. Could fly to NOLA fairly cheap from Dallas I'm sure. And I may have been the one who offered you up. Fort Worth would also be fun but not AS fun. Muahahaha. ;)

Really want to check out The Alphabet Not Unlike the World!

Amanda said...

Yep, definitely in for the meetup! You know that! And depending on the time of year, I might even be able to bring the fam with me. :)

Debi said...

LOL--good to hear Matt's in. :P

Vasilly said...

Count me in!

Susan said...

I so wish I could join you! In my head I will.....I have no idea if I will be in an apartment by then or not, so I will keep it in the back of my mind, because I've often thought that a big get-together of book bloggers would be so much fun!!

I LOVE what you wrote about poetry and all your answers to Kailana's questions. I wanted to join, but this year has been so bad for keeping up with much that I haven't been able to go along every month. You know I've been trying to find a copy of Atlas since you posted about it two years ago! lol I really love that you have been reading poetry for that long, that's even rarer to meet these days. I think I have always read poetry, and certainly have had phases of it - Sylvia Plath was a big one, ee cummings, who I adore, Sir Thomas Wyatt. I was thinking of doing a post of some of the poets I like, too, so maybe I will after answering here!

And don't be ashamed or think something is wrong with you if you don't like poetry that you have to ponder for a long time. I don't like them either - I know there is a place for them, and they are an art form, but like you, I read poetry for its emotional connection and impact. It's the closest we can come to seeing through another's eyes, like a painting can be, too. The poetry I like has to move me emotionally or it doesn't resonate me, doesn't stay with me and live on in me.

Lovely, passionate post, Chris.

Janna said...

After reading your post and others, I'm really excited to join the Poetry Project. I've loved poetry fro a long time, and I'm excited to connect with other poetry lovers online. Katrina Vandenberg is now on the top of my list to check out.

Daphne said...

I would be totally interested. My guy's dad has a timeshare in NOLA, so I could probably turn it into a family thing and spend a couple days at Chris-Blog-Fest. I would LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!

Melanie said...

so far far behind on my feeds so i just saw this. I'm in! at least for part, i'm sure i could swing a couple days in New Orleans on the way to see the family in Breaux Bridge!

Jeanne said...

I haven't heard of Vandenberg or Tretheway before.

Jeanne said...

I will start with Vandenberg's Atlas first! Thanks for the suggestion.

DesLily said...

duh! lol

DesLily said...

a no brainer eh Debi?!! lol

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Natasha Trethewey is awesome.