I’ve always been a poetry reader, subscribing to journals, buying those thin volumes of poetry and collecting my favorite poets’ work over the years.
Lately, I’ve started a poetry tradition I will probably do for the rest of my life: read poetry in bed first thing in the morning with Dyan, our dogs and good strong cup of coffee. It sets the day up just right.
I read poetry before hearing the news, reading a newspaper, or going through the latest iteration of Flipboard on my iPad.
My morning reading of poetry sets the day’s rhythm and rhyme and sends me forth more aware and attuned to come what may.
This morning I read a number of very good poems from this year’s *The Best American Poetry* edited by Denise Duhamel. This morning I read Anthony Madrid’s “Once Upon A Time” poem which contains the following stanza:
Maybe I’m just like my cat:
Licking invisible balls.
Perhaps you’ll reflect upon that,
Next time you’re screening your calls.
It’s a poem whose formality and concern grows from beginning with a light frivolity and ending with a self-deprecation that is heavy and revealing. That stanza is a killer, and a turning point of sorts.
After reading the poem I flipped back to the anthology’s contributors’ notes and found the entry on Madrid and found that he wrote the poem never thinking it would see the light of day, which means he wrote it only to write it. He says of the poem:
“The whole thing is code. Code and more code. I sent it to *Poetry* as a joke. And now it’s in this thing, and people are going to think this is how I write.”
Writers often fall into this conundrum — there will be works published, and better received, than the writer ever intended and there’s not much to do but grin and bear it.