Editor’s choice: Poetry picks
Published: Monday, April 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 9, 2012 01:04
April marks National Poetry Month, and USF is celebrating by both bringing esteemed poets to campus and bringing esteemed members of the campus to poetry.
Beyond inviting poets such as Melanie Hubbard and Sasenarine Persaud to read their works on campus, the Humanities Institute has also started a website called Poetry Matters at USF!, where figures such as USF President Judy Genshaft and football coach Skip Holtz reveal their favorite poems. Genshaft’s selection was “The Moment” by Margaret Atwood.
In the spirit of this project, Oracle editors select and share their favorite poems.
Charles Bukowski, “So You Want to be a Writer?”
Discovering Charles Bukowski’s “So You Want to Be a Writer?” was a crucial fork in my road to becoming a journalist. As an 18-year-old trying to decide what she was meant to do for the rest of her life, drowning in a sea of college applications and career advice, Bukowski’s speculative prose both terrified and convinced me to take a gamble on writing.
“If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it,” Bukowski warns. “If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it.”
Back then, writing wasn’t hard work, and I try to remind myself of that now that I consider it my career. Whatever you do in life, whether you are a writer, engineer or astronaut, do what you love and don’t worry about the consequences.
“When it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you,” Bukowski promised. It’s that promise that gives me comfort during the struggles and true satisfaction during the small victories that come with following your passions.
— Anastasia Dawson, Editor-in-Chief
Charles Bukowski, “Oh, Yes”
Bukowski is arguably best known for his poetry on what could be called the unholy trinity — sex, drugs and horse track gambling. Yet he could also be a poet of tremendous sensitivity and poignancy in pieces such as “For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which was Not Enough” and “Oh, Yes.”
The short poem considers that “there are worse things than being alone,” but when we finally discover this, it’s often too late — “and there’s nothing worse than too late.” In a sparse 10 lines, Bukowski says more about loneliness, mortality and regret than many poets achieve in an entire lifetime of writing.
I could think of “better,” more evocative and descriptive poems by everyone from my favorite poet Pablo Neruda to Bukowski himself. Yet I will never forget the moment I read “Oh, Yes” in a now well-worn copy of the
collection “War All The Time” in a Seattle bookstore, and felt like I had found a poem all my own.
— Jimmy Geurts, Managing Editor
Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee”
“Annabel Lee” personifies the spirit and innocence of youth that can never be marred. As children, we “love with a love that (is) more than love,” before the free spirits of youth are “shut up in a sepulchre.”
Over time, the “winds” of crushed hopes and soured dreams come “chilling and killing” our respective Annabel Lees, or youthful dreams.
Yet, despite the passage of time, no one “can ever dissever (our) soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee.” The power of each individual in society lies in his or her ability to dream and hope, a concept that no one should lose with age.
In the words of Poe: “The moon never beams without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee; and the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes of the beautiful Annabel Lee.”
— Divya Kumar, News Editor
Sylvia Plath, “Mad Girl’s Love Song”
With a world population of more than 6.8 billion, “Mad Girl’s Love Song” never fails to reduce my understanding of the population figure to a single digit: one.
The first stanza of Plath’s poem — “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head.)” — is not meant to be morose, but is haunting nonetheless.
For all the diffusion, subterfuge, sugarcoating and downright lies that permeate our culture, I wonder if it were all somehow magically taken away, wouldn’t we realize how little we differ, to the point that we might once more cascade into one unified consciousness.
And I myself do wonder, “Did I make you up inside my head?” Or was I bred in yours, instead?
— Jessica Velez, Asst. News Editor
Billy Collins, “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes”
In 10th grade, I had to memorize an Emily Dickinson poem of my choice for English class. I didn’t much enjoy her dreary lines of death and decay until I read Billy Collins’ contemporary homage to her work.