Reason for Poetry, Rexroth, and Request for Nominations

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“It is not poetry’s fault that it has so small an audience, so little effect upon the frightened, money-loving world. Poetry, after all, is not a miracle. It is an effort to formalize (ritualize) individual moments and the transcending effects of these moments into a music that all can use. It is the song of our species.” — Mary Oliver

It’s my turn to post a lil’ something for Poetry Friday. But Julie had found that Mary Oliver quote and tossed it my way, and I agreed it needed to be shared. I mean, if you’re bothering to read this, you probably don’t need a justification for the existence of poetry. But it’s true, not everyone gets it. I remember this girl from a required literature survey class I took in college, a biology major who lived in my dorm. Nice girl, very smart, but… one day in class, we were studying a poem (don’t remember which one) and we were discussing what the poet had “meant” by something he’d said in the poem. And this girl said, in all seriousness, “But… why didn’t he just say that?”

Anyhoo, the reason Jules had to take over Poetry Friday duty last week (and one reason I’ve been so quiet lately) is that I just got back from visiting family in San Francisco. It’s a lovely city, and if you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it. And in recognition of the city’s rich poetic history, I thought I’d post a little something from the founder of the San Francisco Renaissance (the poetry movement that paved the way for the Beats), Kenneth Rexroth. This is from Gic to Har:

I remember a sycamore in front of a ruined farmhouse,
And instantly and clearly the revelation
Of a song of incredible purity and joy,
My first rose-breasted grosbeak,
Facing the low sun, his body
Suffused with light.
I was motionless and cold in the hot evening
Until he flew away, and I went on knowing
In my twelfth year one of the great things
Of my life had happened.

How unspeakably lovely is that? Click here for the entire poem. *snap, snap, snap* Dig it. Yeah.

Oh, and by the way, I am extremely honored to be serving on the Poetry Nominating Committee for the Cybil Awards. Got a favorite children’s or YA poetry collection for 2006? You should really tell us about it. Don’t know what the Cybil Awards are? Read this, then click here and nominate some books. Don’t be shy. It’s easy, fun… and hey, it’s not like the Newbery people are asking you for your opinion.

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