We can't like every poem we read, or are shown. Some poetry irritates me. Some poetry seems to have nothing to say to me. But as a writer of poetry I do try and articulate why a poem isn't working for me (in relation to craft choices rather than subject matter) and it's often the case that after taking a poem apart, looking at its language, its form, its dramatic development, and trusting in the sincerity of the author, I actually end up liking it more! But not always : )
But what is truly wonderful is coming across a poem that seems to speak to me before I have even thought about engaging my critical mind. A poem that really does enter the body first, that somehow feels true and honest and essential, even if I don't fully understand it.
The poem below had that effect on me. It might not have the same effect on you, but however you respond, try and use it as a model for a poem of your own. By 'model', I mean try copying some of the syntactical and language choices; try and use the engine of this poem to drive your own.
I had a go myself and you can read my unfinished draft below.
The light on upstairs
before four every morning. The man
asleep every night before eight.
What programs they watch. Who
traded cars, what keeps the town
The town knows. You
know. You've known for years over
drugstore coffee. Who hurts, who
Why, today, in the house
two down from the church, people
you know cannot stop weeping.
from Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999
Penguin Group, 1999
And here's my attempt:
across the face of the house
between 9 and 3. The growl
of the postman’s Vesper.
Tuesday night episodes
of CSI with a break for tea.
Paving slabs wait to be laid.
The Bleu Lavande is cut
50/50 with an oil-based white.
The air is warming by degrees
despite the unexpected snow
this week. The Mairie have said
‘yes’. Twenty five years
have passed since we met.
These last two years have not
been easy. The jasmine hedge
will start to flower soon.
The days will lengthen. We know
we will grow old together.
Write well. I look forward to reading your poems.