(This is the first in a series of letters about poems and what I love in them. You probably subscribed to these letters when I sold you a chapbook of Horse_ebooks poems; feel free to unsubscribe at any time.)People tell me: I don’t get poetry. Why the line breaks? Why say it this way? Why not just come out and say what you mean without decoration? But line breaks and sounds and lively evocations are all part of making meaning in a poem. I read to be surprised – there’s no special insight needed. A poem can be a puzzle comprised of its sounds, the way it looks on a page, and what it means. Like a good puzzle, it should entertain you without becoming too frustrating. And like when you solve a crossword or a riddle, you might feel a click of understanding once you’ve read it: Yes, of course it works this way.Reading a good poem, like having a great conversation, can shift your perception of things. The phrase that kicks around my head to name where this shift happens is the floaty, half-unselved place: a liminal space between your mind and the world outside it.So I put that in a poem with some grapefruit:
A grapefruit half in crystal
On grandmother’s glass table sits
Pulpy and electrified, neon
With the sun of ten a.m.
With a silver sharp-edged spoon,
The whisper as the pith is slit,
Misting perfume at the dust mites.
The middle path of citrus, limned with fuzz
Polyped pink that glows and lights
That floaty, half-unselved place —
A path between the way you see
I make a little broken thing.
I hold it close. I taste it.
And serve its sour sections
For any hungry mouths.
What do you think? Feel free to reply. I’d love to hear from you about why you read poetry and what you’ve read lately. I’d love to recommend poems to you, too.Yours in weird word-making,Erin