"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Pandemic antidotes--a year for poetry

It's been a year of poetry in my pandemic reading, as I look back over the 49 books attempted.

Seven of them were complete books of poetry, with selected portions of other books.

Ray Bradbury said to read poetry every day because it stretched muscles not ordinarily used. I didn't make every day, but this has been a year of quarantine, or stress, trials and more, when stretching muscles, especially mental  and spiritual muscles, is essential to mental health.

Four of the books are from three friends and Okie poets. The most recent was a rereading of Benjamin Myers' Black Sunday, a collection of sonnets, no less, and a short story, all about a few Okies surviving the Dust Bowl. Stories of people with grit, applicable today.

Two new ones by Nathan Brown are like reading a day-by-day diary of the pandemic. His Pandemic Poetry Project contains a poem a day, by date, beginning in March, suggested by sponsored prompts from his readers. 

In the Days of Our Seclusion  (March-May) and In the Days of Our Unrest (June-August)One poem in the second book was my prompt, "back roads." It's about a lonely highway in New Mexico. But most are wrenching reality and insights into our 2020 journeys. You can buy them direct from him, $15 plus shipping. Brownlines

He has two more books continuing the series forthcoming. You can listen to him reading from the poems in his periodic "FirePit Sessions" on his Facebook Page. 

Ken Hada's Sunlight and Cedar. I reviewed in August on this blog. You can read about that earth-deep poetry here. A Geography of Pandemic Poetry

Actually, you can order from Ken and Ben directly as well. Contact them: Ken Hada or @BenMyersPoet on twitter. Or at bookstores of course, but if you want yours inscribed....

These are all mind- and soul-stretching antidotes for the messes we're in this year.

The other books: Mary Oliver's Devotions; Mary Ruefle's Dunce and Charles Bukoski's Betting on the Muse.

The partial readings? A closing poem in Wendell Berry's The Art of Loading Brush--a collection of agrarian writings, and then skipping around in The Big Red Book by Rumi, and another poet I know you've heard of, David, in Psalms.

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