Thursday, 25 August 2011

Book 39 Complete Poems - Elizabeth Bishop

I must say that I have a love hate relationship with poetry, I like some poetry but I hate a lot of it ! For me it is the snobbery that surrounds the world of poetry that I don't like. Personally I love to be able to read a poem without having to have a degree in the history and workings of poetry, if a poem doesn't make sense then I don't like it. And I don't want to know about iambics or any of that stuff to be able to appreciate a piece of writing. I have written poetry in the past and maybe I will again in the future but I'm not interested in writing anything that you need a diploma or a degree in poetry or English Lit to understand. I like to write poetry and to read poetry that makes me feel something, whether it is joy or sadness or surprise or shock. I love Billy Collins and even Sylvia Plath, even though Sylvia's poetry isn't the easiest to understand, I just love her imagination.

To be honest the Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop didn't rock my world, in fact it was a bit of a nightmare to read. Of the many MANY poems in the book I could probably count on two hands ( maybe one) the ones that I liked. I much prefer her later poems than her earlier ones. The final part of the book featured Elizabeth's translations of poetry by other poets and to be honest these were probably more fun to read !

The highlights of Elizabeth's poems for me were poems such as ; Manners, Filling Station, Visit's to Elizabeths, In the Waiting Room ( probably my favourite), Crusoe in England. And translations of note are 'The Death and Life of Severino' by Joao Cabral de Melo Neto, 'The Table' by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and 'January First' by Octavio Paz.

Even though this wasn't my favourite read of the year I do think any writer could do worse than to read poetry, I think a writer can learn a lot from poetry in general. Where better a place to learn about imagery and metaphor and imagination ?
I would like to read more poetry.


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