“How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual“
by Pamela Spiro Wagner has been a model
of effective, which is to say inspiring, poetry
for me for a long while, calling out as it does
pretentiousness around verse, and having
verse mean something, something you can
understand and relate to, in a way that is
potent and beautiful, resonant, ever tolling,
extolling, stirring profoundly, like a
conscience, or an echo
check out also his significant others
this man is incontrovertibly a poet, the very
voice of a generation, I believe, Brice Maiurro
is what presently, I think, is happening
a cardinal rule for me of aeshtetic consideration
is ever to juxtapose, be it art, music, poems –
these are all essentially conversations among
acolytes – in order to be able to consider
differences, it is in the interstices that the artist
flourishes, the personal, and telling, touches,
their foundational stories most often remain
“How to Read My Poems“ and “How to Read
a Poem: Beginner’s Manual“ are both equally
powerful exhortations, each resounding mightily
above the generally less compelling fray, read
them and listen to what they’re saying, they
are messengers, oracles, of nothing less than
harmony and compassion, better known
together as grace
in the stale of
with a baseball bat
sticking out of the end
and bash them in the
like a zombie
terrorizing your childhood
do not listen
let the fucking
curse words shout
behind their backs.
keep their friends close,
but their enemies
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.
You can now read poetry