Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Review: Poem in Your Pocket (Or, how to EDC a poem)

When I saw Poem in Your Pocket at the Penn Bookstore a few months back, I knew I had to add it to my wishlist. It's a collection of poems that you're expected to pull out and carry around. Poetry in small doses, how you can you go wrong, right?

Shira picked this up for my birthday, and at the same time, cleverly got the kids version for our little one.

Nearly every day, before we leave for the bus stop, I grab a new poem. I can read it while our little guy is playing tag as we wait for the bus, or glance at on the walk back home. All day, I do just as the title suggests, and carry it in my pocket, ready to pull it out and do some ad hoc literary analysis. So yeah, I love the concept.

Unfortunately, unlike my last poetry book, nearly every poem I grabbed was almost nonsensical. Each poem seemed to be more opaque than the last. I have to admit, I was getting pretty bummed. Maybe this poetry thing really wasn't for me. And then I pulled out Gwendolyn Brooks' Song in the Front Yard (you can listen to her read it here.).

Unlike the other poems, I got this one! And boy, was it clever. What a take on on race, and in 22 lines no less.

Since then, I've got a refreshed perspective on the poems. I onow look at them as little puzzles, and not merely sources of cheap entertainment. I examine them carefully for clues and see if can make it make sense. And if I can't, no worries, there's always a fresh puzzle to try tomorrow.

Can I recommend Poem in Your Pocket? Absolutely. But just know what you're getting into. These poems are the real deal, and if you're anything like me, will leave you stumped more often than not. Still, as a person who takes the contents of his pockets seriously, I'm glad to be able to add a poem my daily carry.

Today's poem: On Mere Being. After my initial reading, I haven't got a clue what it's saying. But, give me some time, I may crack this one yet.

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