Saturday, March 27, 2010

best assignment ever

My sophomore year in college, (what i can piece together of it)...involved a lot of East African dance, and a lot of reading. My professor Lorna Dee Cervantes (colossal poet activist all around swell lady) assigned a very simple task for her creative writing go to a bookstore once a week, preferably an independently owned walk up to the poetry section, and buy one book of poetry a week, based on intuition....don't think- grab one - throw the money down- and go.

I can't tell you how many of my favorite writers I found this way...writing roulette...I think it is important to buy poetry, to read poetry, and to write poetry. Poetry is the easiest thing to read and the easiest thing to write if you can take the time to find kindred writers, and take the time to trust your right to write it down...any of it.

Art should be affordable, accessible...I am drawn to poets who are largely un- experimental with their language and prosody...I am drawn to writers who aren't afraid to speak simply...and meet the reader face to face, and say what it is they are saying...

The reason a lot of people don't bother with poetry is that their formidable experience was one of a fear...a close reading of poems written by affluent white men, birds on fences, metered trochee, iamb, snore...If we could get more working class thinkers into our canon...we would have 7 full cases of poetry spanning our walls...

So my challenge to anyone who has bothered to read this far...Take a chance, and bring home a book (used if you're strapped) of poetry based on anything and everything...including its cover.

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