Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy National Poetry Month!

Every April I read a selection of poetry for National Poetry Month. Does anyone else do this? If so, I'd love to hear about your selections.

This year, I chose Native Guard, a collection that had me alternately holding back tears and wishing I could read a history of the American Civil War:

Native Guard
by Natasha Trethewey
Mariner Books (Houghton Mifflin), 2007.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection by Natasha Trethewey contains twenty-six poems divided into three sections. Each section's content is linked thematically as the poet examines her grief over her mother's death, the history of the eponymous "Native Guard," and growing up of mixed race in the South.  The themes sound disparate, but are truly linked, often by the repetition of a thought or phrase, so that the collection as a whole flows together unmistakeably.  Indeed, though I sometimes paused to linger on a single poem, I more often found myself wanting to go on before I lost the connecting thread.

I do not read much poetry; after reading Native Guard, I have determined that I do not read enough poetry. Each poem reads simply - by which I do not mean that it is easy, but that I do not have to attack it with a sledgehammer to determine its meaning - contains strong emotion, and begs to be read aloud and savored. Though I find it hard in such a well-seamed collection to pick out one or two pieces as favorites, I often turned back to the first poem, "Theories of Time and Space," and had to stop reading to hold back tears when I came to "Graveyard Blues." This will definitely be one of my most memorable reads of the year.

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