Saturday, September 15, 2012

Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out? : Poem In Your Post

“Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?"

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhh."

Then start again.

-          Ron Koertge

Ours were much gutsier and more
inventive, but you get the picture.

This week my students and I went on a book troll, sifting through piles and piles of our school library's most popular books to find the ones that grabbed us.  We'll use them for our "personal inquiry" book projects, creating our own burning questions about 'how books mean' to focus our responses.  Inevitably, even with the focused excitement generated by such literary abundance, the loose piles of books became just too tempting:  On day two of our searches, the piles called out a challenge for the budding engineers among us, and towers grew.   And you know what?  The towers only added to the joy of it all.  In fact, some built towers as display racks for their favorite book-finds: love!  I say, if enthusiasm for (or even near) books can be cultivated, I'll take it.

I knew I'd read a poem about book towers in a library once, so I went on my own search.  And I found the poem at Poetry 180, one of my favorite places to troll for easily accessible yet richly-worth-re-reading poems.   Now I know which poem I'll bring to class on Monday. :-)

Koertge’s also a fine creator of young adult books, and you can find more of his writing at his website:



As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I don't believe I've ever heard of Ron Koertge before, but I sure did enjoy reading this poem. Off to forward it now to my DH so he can read it, too.Thanks for taking the time to make the rest of us a little more cultured! :)

Lorren Lemmons said...

You always have the best poetry featured on your blog. I enjoy poetry but am not very good about seeking it out on my own, so I'm grateful to get exposure to new poets!

Laurie said...

Happy to spread the poetry love, you two. And I'm grateful for your kind words too.

Parrish Lantern said...

THE TOWER OF BABEL - Jacinta Ramayah

Clicks, rolls, twists of tongues
sounds echo deep from the lungs,
strokes, lines, whorls, curly ends
are messages used by early man.

Guttural tones and stiletto barks
soft and hushed or loud remarks,
raised in anger, trembling in fear
or declaration of a love sincere.

Watch the play of various stances
of vivid hand and body gestures,
they complement the sweet voices
and tones of various languages.

The tower was built by man’s pride
God swooped down and cast it aside,
prose and poetry divided everywhere
a gift for people to learn and share.

didn't know about poetry 180, thanks will add it to my Pomesallsizes page.

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