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Poems for the Non-Poet - CFMU Staff Picks

Blog/FavouritesNovember 23rd 2022
Kamea Bellows

I have always been a reader. I was gifted Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by my Nana when I was in kindergarten, and I flew through it in the span of a few days — I couldn’t get enough. As a child, there was little I looked forward to more than my weekly trips to the children’s library. Since becoming an adult with adult obligations, I have found less time in my day-to-day to read novels. I find poetry scratches the literature-itch, but in a digestible means, though just as thought-provoking as any novel. If you were to ask me to recommend you a poet from my favourites, I would have some suggestions based on what you gravitate to.

The Intersections of Prose and Poetry

Richard Siken’s debut poetry anthology Crush (2004) takes the cake as my favourite collection of poetry, to the point where I annotated my copy. This book really kick-started my interest in poetry, and I attribute that largely to Siken’s writing style, blending thoughtful devices with strong narratives about love and loss. My favourites from this anthology are the stylistic Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out, and the 24-verse narrative of You Are Jeff.

“A forest, then. Beautiful trees. And a lady singing.
Love on the water, love underwater, love, love and so on.”

Poetry for the Nature Lover

Mary Oliver is a poet I have taken a liking to recently. As a biologist, I’m drawn to artist’s interpretations of nature, and Mary Oliver’s poetry puts its calm beauty into words better than I ever could. One line, from Oliver’s poem The Moths, stands out to me in particular:

“If you notice anything, it leads you to notice more and more.”

Poetry and Music

Fiona Apple is an artist whose lyricism is reminiscent vastly of poetry. This influence is not only shown in her lyrics, however, and the title of her 1999 album When the Pawn... is a poem in and of itself. Written as a response to news media, the full title of the album is a witty, 90 word poem, that was in fact the longest album title at its time (later beaten by a 2008 Chumbawumba record).

Poetry can often be intimidating, particularly if you were not a fan of high school English class. Once you start, though, it’s hard to stop delving into poetry, and I hope these suggestions give you that starting point.