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. Genshafts 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 Bukowskis 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, Bukowskis speculative prose both terrified and convinced me to take a gamble on writing.
If it doesnt come bursting out of you in spite of everything, dont do it, Bukowski warns. If its hard work just thinking about doing it, dont do it.
Back then, writing wasnt 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 dont 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. Its 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, its often too late and theres 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 Girls Love Song
With a world population of more than 6.8 billion, Mad Girls Love Song never fails to reduce my understanding of the population figure to a single digit: one.
The first stanza of Plaths 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, wouldnt 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 Dickinsons Clothes
In 10th grade, I had to memorize an Emily Dickinson poem of my choice for English class. I didnt much enjoy her dreary lines of death and decay until I read Billy Collins contemporary homage to her work.
Line by line, he humorously undresses the 19th century poet with lines such as the complexity of womens undergarments in the nineteenth-century America is not to be waved off.
As he hypothetically strips Dickinson, he sprinkles in references to her content as well as her style, such as how there were sudden dashes whenever we spoke. The poem uses boyish curiosity to strip away the readers preconceived notions and reveal the beauty of Dickinsons work.
Joe Polito, Montage Editor
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
Though most people remember annoyance at having had to read Robert Frosts The Road Not Taken almost every year in grade school, I have always been able to relate to the poem.
When it comes to making decisions and choosing paths, I am perpetually sorry I could not travel both. Many readers take comfort in knowing that the speaker chooses the road less traveled, but however pessimistically, the reason the speaker is telling this with a sigh is that whether you made the right decision or the wrong one, there will always be another missed opportunity somewhere in the past.
Jessica Schoenfeld, Opinion Editor
W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming
Being of Irish descent, W.B. Yeats has always been one of my favorite poets. And this year, the year of the supposed Mayan apocalypse, what poem could be more fitting than Yeats The Second Coming?
The opening stanza describes a crumbling world Things fall apart, the center cannot hold painting an image of a world that seems to be ending soon, much like our own may be.
Then the scene shifts to a giant sphinx, a shape of lion body and head of man, wandering across the desert, which is a pretty impressive image. If thats how the apocalypse initiates, I wont complain.
Michael Manganello, Sports Editor
Billy Collins, Litany
One of the most well-known contemporary poets, Collins manages to be a skilled writer without taking the craft too seriously.
In Litany, his sense of humor is readily apparent. The poem is a rewrite of another poem by Jacques Crikillon, retaining the first two lines: You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine.
Collins mocks the tendency in love poems to overuse metaphor, comparing the beloved to a nonsensical list of objects. Collins begins to list things that the you is not or might possibly be. Though humor is his intent, he still creates some fairly vivid imagery.
Michael Hardcastle, Copy Chief