Favorite Poem of 2012

I meant to write this post days ago, more in keeping with a general re-cap of 2012 before launching staunchly into 2013.  O the best laid plans .... Realizing I had barely missed Dave's birthday threw me, and before I knew it, 2013 was firmly settled-in and ticking away.  I am not one, generally, for looking backwards, having learned in my personal life that doing so can mire one down in regrets and what-ifs or simply in crap memories that no one should be carrying around.  Don't get me wrong - of course I am quite sentimental about fond memories.  I keep those in a special memory box away from the rest.  I digress.

2012 was the year of POETRY for 'through the garden gate.'  I posted approximately 50 different poets' work in 2012 and some more than once.  I cannot recall if I read and finished one book during 2012.   But yes, I did read a lot of poems.  I had my Polish contingent:  Szymborska, Harasymowicz and Milosz.  A bit of Shakespeare, Hafiz  and Rilke for history.  Merwin, Neruda, Hughes, Cummings, Kinnell and Ryan for solid grounding.  Hulme for the metaphysical poets.  Current poetic stars like Collins, Hoagland and Li-Young Lee.  And there are the lesser known but still much delighted-in poets.  All in all a great year for poetry.

So how do I pick a favorite ??? Actually it is not as hard as it might seem.  Many poems speak to me of a particular mood, or thought - a moment in my daily life.  If I go back and re-read, these poems typically 'read differently' to me the second time around.  A favorite poem's essence, if not its actual lines, stays with me always.  Okay.  On to the short list for 2012, in no particular order:

Kay Ryan, Chinese Foot Chart
Kaylin Haught, God Says Yes to Me
poet unknown, Finding You
Tiffany Atkinson, Tea
Anne Michaels, Flowers
Eleanor Wilner, The Muse, an excerpt
Billy Collins, Silence
Margaret Atwood, Late Night
Kevin Hart, Come Back
Li-Young Lee, Nocturne

Ummmm..... this is where the choosing gets tricky.  Ten great poems.  Ten great, memorable poems.

Chinese Foot Chart ~ Every word of this poem matters.  It is spare and strong and I would have trouble picking one line out of all the rest. 
God Says Yes to Me ~ "Sweetcakes God said, who knows where she picked that up, what I'm telling you is Yes Yes Yes"
Finding You ~ For reasons of sentiment and personal attachment, this poem is awarded its own 'category' - I consider this poem to be 'Our Poem' - as in couples having 'their song'... I know, I know.  It is pretty sappy.  But Soubriquet found this poem in a book in a charity bookshop, somewhere (we can't remember where) and photographed the poem.  We have no idea who wrote it; what book it was in; why we didn't purchase the book ...... but there you have it.  Our poem.
Tea ~ Ohhhh another poem where every word counts! Really love this one:  "You weren't to know how your touch with the teaspoon stirred me" and "I thought of the salt in the crook
of your arm where a fine vein kicks.  Of what it might be like to know the knot and grain and beat of you;"
Flowers ~ "There's another skin inside my skin that gathers to your touch," and "every tip of me gathers under your touch, wind wrapping my dress around our legs, your shirt twisting to flowers in my fists." .... A very strong ending to this poem.
The Muse ~ from "There she was, for centuries, the broad with the luscious tits," to "that plump poetic dish who lived on air but looked as if she dined on pasta." - this poem is a great erotic romp!
Silence ~  Right, right - I haven't been a Billy Collins fan in the past, but 2012 changed that.  I posted at least 3 if not 4 of his poems last year.  And here is Silence vying for the top spot: " The silence of the falling vase before it strikes the floor, the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child." and "And there is the silence of this morning which I have broken with my pen, a silence that had piled up all night" ... boy, this one will be hard to beat!
Late Night ~ Oh what a great thing to discover Margaret Atwood's poetry!  She has been a favored author over the years, but I had not delved into her poetry.  I love this ending:  "Screw poetry, it’s you I want, your taste, rain on you, mouth on your skin."
Come Back ~  Mmmm .... I love the pleading repetition:  Come back .... "Come back to me.  The road is waiting quietly outside your door," and "Come back, I want to tell you how all of the things I only half-believed before are true," to its finale:  "I want to know, once more, how it feels to be peeled and eaten whole, time after time"  Love Love Love this ending!!
Nocturne  ~ Every poem of Li-Young Lee's is elegantly composed.  His poems are stories within stories; and he is, arguably, my current favorite poet (though Tony Hoagland vies closely).  The ending to this poem is wonderfully chilling:  "Tonight, something bows that should not bend. Something stiffens that should slide. Something, loose and not right, rakes or forges itself all night."

Sigh.  I've gone back and read them all including comments.  The top three, drum roll please, in no particular order are:

Tea by Tiffany Atkinson
Silence by Billy Collins
Come Back by Kevin Hart

Oh dear.  I've been resisting this decision.  I knew it all along.  Instead I wrote a very long post, circling round and round, HOPING the final choice would be anyone but .... HIM .... argggghhh!

Here it is my friends.  My favorite poem of 2012:


There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house -
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

~ by Billy Collins

Here's to more poetry in 2013!


Lee said...

I love it! And you've given me a lot of reading to get started on in 2103, red dirt girl! (For this I thank you...I'm not complaining)! ;)

Lin said...

I like Mary Oliver's poems. Do you like her?

bulletholes said...

I like the Flowers poem.
But I was hoping you would pick the "God says Yes" one, because the picture of you with the poem is so precious, and because I helped find that one for you...

And even though i'm just a simple old man, God says yes to me too (sometimes) .

gz said...

a stunning poem with depth in its simplicity.

Here's to reading your choices this year- looking forward to them

goatman said...

When Ms. Atwood was tasked to select twenty of a field of 120 Canadian and American short stories for inclusion into The Best American Short Stories of 1989 she chose to (what she called) "read blind" the stories. That is, she was not aware of the author of the story she was reading for fear of undue influence -- as it turned out, she did recognize some authors by their stories,however.
I mention this by way only of memory not necessarily applicable import . . .

I cannot thank you enough for introducing me to voices that I may never have heard.

red dirt girl said...

Hi Lee! Oh there is so much great poetry out there to read ... much like great fiction and art and music...It is a wonderful thing we humans can do - create (when we are not bent on destroying). Happy reading, Lee :)


red dirt girl said...

Oh Lin,

I DO like Mary Oliver and recall reading that you received a book of her poetry for Christmas, yes ??! Ms. Oliver shall be on the list to post this year. She wrote a great book about the craft of writing poems that I have stored somewhere in my boxes of books in the garage ... note to self: unbox the poetry this year!

Thanks for the reminder!


red dirt girl said...

Hi Cowboy! I'm sending you a giant ((hug)) for the great poem you found for me. I DO love "God says Yes" ... and "Flowers" is wonderful too - the twisting of his shirt into flowers ...I bet you have a flowered shirt, don't you?!

Here's betting that God will say Yes Yes Yes to you a lot more in 2013 ;-)


ps. And I'm apologizing especially to you that 2012's poem was by Billy Collins. I still remember and love your comment: He's like the Barry Manilow of poetry... Truly I did not want HIM to be the one because overall I agree with you. However, "Silence" is a great poem from start to finish for me. Every word, every line are such strong images.

Thanks for reading!

red dirt girl said...

Hi gz!

And I thank you for reading. Poetry can be an 'acquired' taste to the general reading public. I feel lucky and honored to have a dedicated group of readers here who enjoy these marvels as much as I do.

Looking forward to a wonderful 2013 for you as well!!


red dirt girl said...

Thank you, goatman. That's such a sweet thing to say! I can only imagine how difficult it would be to select an anthology - try to be objective, yet what we love is based on so much subjectivity .... Love Atwood's poetry as much (if not more)than her fiction. She was a great discovery last year.

I feel happy whenever I see you pop up :-)


goatman said...

I'll not belabor Mr. Collins any further c'ept to say that his line "the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child" held particular resonance. Dad would belt my three brothers and me as he felt necessary and I can never forget the thwop thwop thwop sounds of the belt leaving its keepers on his pants. The silence came in when he would wrap the buckle-end around his right hand and I would see the extreme anger in his face.

Of course we must not purge those past bad memories since they must fit with the good, in the end.

red dirt girl said...

That stanza 'hit' home for me as well goatman .... the falling vase and the silence of the belt .... though in my case it was a 2x4 split into a roughly shaped 'paddle'. Three swats to the rear for various misdeeds. Until the paddle finally broke over my brother's back when my stepdad held him down on the floor and beat him senseless .... my mother can't 'remember' that event at all, but it is seared onto my brain's recall screen.

So what were you saying about it all balancing in the end ????


bulletholes said...

"The Barry Manilow of poetry"...thats pretty funny.
I really said that?

red dirt girl said...

You did, cowboy! You really did. AND you sent me a link to a great cartoon featuring Billy on PBS.

I'm going to post it ... any day now!!


bulletholes said...

"He writes the sludge"