Literature Week is an event occurring this week on my blog. Everyday, I will read a book considered to be a "great" classic and review it.
For my fourth book, I read Margaret Atwood Selected Poems 1965-1975.
Celebrated as a major novelist throughout the English-speaking world, Atwood has also written eleven volumes of poetry. Houghton Mifflin is proud to have published SELECTED POEMS, 1965-1975, a volume of selections from Atwood's poetry of that decade
Well, this is sort of a nasty surprise, isn't it? Me doing a review on poetry. I may be breaking rules here--but rules are made to be broken, and with what better author than Margaret Atwood? I'll tell you something straight right now: Atwood is the most amazing woman alive. I've loved everything I've read by her, and Selected Poems was no exception. It was wonderful. Amazing. Genius in poetic form.
Wait, am I praising poetry?!
Yeah. That thing.
I'll be honest: the truth is that I've never, ever in my life understood poetry. I just plain don't get it, I really don't. I don't enjoy reading it, I tried once in my eighth grade poetry slam to write poetry and received one of the lowest grades in the class, etc. etc. [insert almost constant nightmares and horrible experiences with poetry stretching from elementary school right up to now here]. For a person whose pretty much in love with words, poetry is the one thing that I've felt like escapes me.
In the last month or so I've been going through this sort of literary epiphany. I've started to realize that there's more beauty in individual words, the unique way authors string sentences together, the power of paragraphs. As a result, I now admire authors who put painstaking attention into every word they write, whose prose drips with beauty, whose writing is perfection in itself. So I guess I'm in the right point in my life to be more receptive of poetry--I'm right at that brink where I could love poetry. I just needed this one book. To change it all.
This book was the one.
I think I can love poetry now, mostly because I've realized poetry is the epitome of careful consideration of every word, striking beauty in each line.
Who made me realize this?
With one book, Atwood has taught me to love poetry. Every page holds lines, words, sentences that are magnificent, wonderful, remarkable. Atwood has this talent for creating the most vivid, impossible images in a reader's mind, for creating beauty, for striking at emotion.
Some favorite lines from different poems:
"He left himself on my doorstep,
abandoned in the shabby
basket of his own ribs.
My heart wept custard: I took him in."
"It was like enticing whales with a bent pin."
"On this vacant winter
plain, the sky is a black shell;
I move within it, a cold kernel of pain."
"The moving water will not show me
The rocks ignore.
I am a word
in a foreign language."
"What suns had to rise and set
what eyes had to blink out
what hands and fingers had to let go of their heat
before you appeared on my desk
black light portable and radiant..."
God, such beauty! This book brought me close to tears, I'll tell you--the beauty in every line was just so encompassing that it struck me deep down past the cold iron critical reading heart I've developed, past the special part dedicated to chocolate. Struck me in the soul. I'm not being melodramatic. This book really had this life-altering impact on me.
Atwood writes what poetry should be. Emotion. Beauty. Power. Soul words.
This volume of poetry has changed my life. In that, from now on I'm going to read poetry. Seek out poetry. Maybe even *gasp* try to write a poem or two (no, I am not sharing it on this blog, and it will never see living daylight even if you bribe me with chocolate).
This is a classic--it resounds in me. To other people it might just be a "good" book, but to me I it's more important because I feel like this is the beginning of something. Like I'll be able to start exploring the world of poetry now. That's not to say that I still don't despise some forms of poetry--but now I know there's poetry out there I can fall in love with.
This volume made me weep--on *sob* the *sob* inside, of course! *sob*. Because I'm *just* about crying now just thinking about it. Because I'm just realizing what I've been missing out on all these years.
Teenage Ignoramus Comment:
I have a literary girlcrush on Atwood. Seriously, I love her.
Rating on the Classics Scale: 10/10. This book has changed my life. 'Nuff said. As a matter of fact, I don't feel like going to sleep. I think I'm just going to read this poems over again. Plus, I've stayed up past midnight to post this--that should tell you something. Grr. Freezy, virusy computer :(
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