Friday, April 20, 2012

Poetry Friday: Postcards from Poets

Postcards from Poets: advice to young poets, gathered from "old" poets, at the 2012 AWP Conference.

by Heather Christle

"Read beyond that which
immediately pleases you,
please."  ---Heather Christie

I resist this advice.  I want to follow my nose in choosing what to read, and in poetry, especially.  But I notice that the poet simply said read BEYOND.  She didn't recommend replacing pleasure. Only swimming out a few yards more.

Here's one that I had to swim for.

A Bird in Hand  
by Amber Flora Thomas

I’ve memorized its heart pounding into my thumb.
Breath buoys out. My fingers know how to kill,
closing on the bird’s slippery head.

I don’t remember. Was it that beak bit my chin?
Was it a claw cut my wrist? I blow feathers
away from its chest, smelling pennies and rain.

the rest is here.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.



  1. Oh, beautiful.
    I resist that advice, too, and yet - beyond doesn't mean to never come back.

    1. So true, Tanita. There's always a returning, a circling back and then beyond again. Like that Rilke poem about circling---remember that one?

      "I live my life in widening circles
      that reach out across the world.
      I may not complete this last one
      but I give myself to it."

  2. I don't know what to say about "A Bird in Hand," so I guess that means it has taken me a bit "beyond."

    1. I admit, I chose this one for the title: A Bird in Hand. It seemed to go so well with the theme of staying with what you know vs. reading beyond. When I began reading it, I thought I knew where the poem was going, but then the twisting happened. And I felt disconcerted and a little lost. But the images are solidly in my head, and I'm thinking about it, even now. I'll take any thoughts you throw out!

  3. I think of something like Prufrock, which I would probably have never enjoyed if I hadn't been forced to study it in a class. Now it's a poem I love. But I'm afraid I'm with Diane about "A Bird in Hand." Not really sure what to say about it.

    1. Prufrock is definitely a pleasurable puzzle. "A Bird in Hand" is uncomfortable, but I think, purposely so. What do we hold onto so tightly that we risk killing it?

  4. Beyond. A fine word and a fine attitude.


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