August 13, 2012

Are there any summer poetry beach reads?

I was reading one of the many summer reading articles that appear every year - What to Read at the Beach, or: Get Your Red-Hot Summer Trash Right Here! on and wondered if there are any poetry titles that you would take to the beach.

The summer book list is often filled with guilty pleasures - books that we want to read but are more fiction than literature - and for some authors, making a beach book list might be an insult.

I have reread Moby-Dick several times over a summer, but I don't think it makes the beach list for many people, even though it has lots of ocean in it.

The idea of poetry beach reading came up last month in a conversation I had with poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan. She had given me an advance copy of her newest collection of poems, The Place I Call Home to take on a trip to Aruba.

I said, "This isn't really beach reading" but Maria insisted it was, and that I could read it "right through, like a novel."

I tend to read books of poetry poem by poem, not in order, and sometimes choosing ones to read by titles. Reading the book all the way through seems to me like eating a whole bag of chips. "I eat a whole bag of chips," Maria told me.

So, I did. I read her book cover to cover in one beach day. And it worked. I suspect that I was the only person reading a book of poetry on that beach.

How do you read books of poetry?

Are there any books of poetry that you would put on a summer reading list or take to the pool or beach?

August 6, 2012

Stupid Love

A man risked his life to write the words. Unfortunately, instead of the intended "I Love You Sweetheart" he left the message "I love Your Sweatheart" which became the title of Thomas Lux's poem (from New and Selected Poems of Thomas Lux: 1975-1995).
A man hung upside down (an idiot friend
holding his legs?) with spray paint
to write the words on a girder fifty feet above
a highway.
And yet, to Lux, the painted, mistaken message is a message of love.

Love is like this at the bone, we hope, love
is like this, Sweatheart, all sore and dumb
and dangerous, ignited, blessed

The stupid things we do for love. Hanging above the highway spraypainting our love poem. They may be all the more cherished for the bravery that stupidity sometimes requires. Perhaps, the sweat of one heart is what made the act all the sweeter. Maybe it is just poor spelling. Maybe the intended never saw the message. Or laughed at it and did not laugh with him.

Write a poem about how stupid we can be when we are in love. Stupid love.

Submissions for this August prompt are due by September 2.