NPM '08: Finding Good Poems

Poetry2Poetry, to some, is a difficult art form to appreciate and enjoy.  Some poetry is just weird.  It can be hyper-cryptic and hard to understand.  Other poetry is so syrupy sweet that it's just unpalatable.  So how can a busy person, like you, start to actually enjoy poetry on a regular basic and feel that it adds to your life without wasting your time?  I have a two step plan, both involving Garrison Keillor. 

1. Subscribe to the podcast of Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.  It's free through iTunes (or whatever you use).  It a very cool, and very short (just over 5 minutes) daily podcast with historical stuff of interest to writers and writing, and a poem read by Keillor.  Hearing poetry read aloud is an easy way to begin loving poetry.  Read the show notes in order to get a flavor of the content. 

2. Buy and read Good Poems by Garrison Keillor.  Dana Gioia (a dude), a wonderful poet and thinker, and a critic of the unapproachable poets of our day, writes...

Good Poems left me grateful for Garrison Keillor, whose Writer’s Almanac has probably done more to expand the audience for American poetry over the past ten years than all the learned journals of New England. He understood that while most people don’t care much for poetry, they do love poems, provided they are good poems. He also understood that most people would rather hear a poem than read it, though they harbor a sensible suspicion that anyone who reads them one poem aloud may be dangerously capable of going on for hours. Presenting only one poem a day at the end of Writer’s Almanac, Keillor has engaged a mass audience without either pretension or condescension. A small victory perhaps, but one that restores faith in the possibilities of public culture.

This is a helpful book of poems, good ones, that come from a variety of authors.  The best way to start with poetry is anthologies.  From the poetry of many you will then find a few you like, and then you will have your favorite poets and can search out for more of their work.

Hope this is helpful.  If you are a poetry lover, feel free to share how you would introduce people to the world of poetry.