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An Almanac For The 21st Century

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Breaking News: I Like Poetry Now, and You Can Too.

Breaking News: I Like Poetry Now, and You Can Too.

I'm not really a poetry reader. Not even when a tough teacher came into my classroom, straddled a backwards facing chair, and taught us all that poetry and hip hop weren't so different after all. There are certainly poems and poets that I've admired over the years, but if you were to recommend a book of poetry to me I'd probably say, "Cool! Thanks!" and never think of it again. 

Ironically, I'm now going to recommend a book of poetry to you. 

As I've mentioned in a few previous posts (like here and here), this year I'm taking on Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. Challenge #23 on the list is to "read a book of poetry in translation on a theme other than love." I had some difficulty in this one, mainly because it's hard to know what the theme of a book of poetry is unless it's explicitly stated in a review or a blurb somewhere. On the NYPL Read Harder recommendation page (where I did eventually get my poetry pick from) they recommended Pablo Neruda, a poet I immediately associate with love poems (and a film that makes illiteracy seem very romantic). My point is: I put this task off for awhile, because I was a bit stumped. In that span of time I forgot the part about how the poetry needed to be in translation, so I grabbed a copy of Morgan Parker's There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé. It wasn't until I read the whole thing and went to write down the title that I realized - WHOOPS - not in translation. But I enjoyed it enough that I'm going to tell you, potential fellow avoider of poetry, you should check out this collection. 

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Because I don't know enough about poetry to analyze it or review it, I'm just going to link you to some articles that presumably know what's what. Here's a piece on Parker and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé from The New Yorker. Here's an interview I really enjoyed with Parker from i-d. Here's an interview with KCRW that, I'll be honest, I haven't listened to, but maybe you prefer listening to a conversation than reading about it, so this one's for you. 

As a person who's not really into poetry, I've also never felt the urge to save stanzas or even whole poems and tape them to my locker or my vanity mirror (this is something an "arty" character in a movie does, but never a real person). But I found myself keeping bits of Parker's poems because I loved them so much. 

The reason I was built

is to outlast some terribly

feminine sickness

that is delivered

to the blood through kale

salad and pity and men

with straight-haired girlfriends

-from "RoboBeyoncé"

If I'd been taught this kind of poetry in school instead of some dead white guy's musings on a tree I'd certainly have a different gut reaction to the genre.

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