working words

I’ve always been very jealous of poets. I mean, I can write. I can string words together and make a story, hopefully well enough to create a world you can get lost in, even if it’s just for a second. But I love words. I think it’s fascinating how they sound when spoken and look on a page when typed (or, even better, handwritten on beautiful lined paper). And poetry is much more conductive to that kind of scrutiny than most prose is.

But unfortunately I can’t write poetry to save my life. My efforts end up sounding trite and angstridden, much more like a teenager’s scribbling than the deep thoughts and beautiful words I was aiming for. Every once in a while I’ll come up with a good line or two, and try to build a poem around it. Inevitably, I fail. But I hug those lines to me and whisper them to myself in secret, because in some way, they represent me and I love them for that. Poetry is deeply personal and therefore very close to my soul.

All this serves as an introduction to the following anthology, edited by M.L. Liebler, that I really want to buy, put on my shelves, and flip through every so often. (I never read poetry collections straight through. The words tend to lose their power whenever I try, so I limit myself to a couple of poems I can linger over.) The anthology contains poetry and short fiction and memoirs and nonfiction – a good mix.

Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams

Apparently, one of his aims was to make poetry accessible to everyone. To that end, Walt Whitman is in there. But so are Eminem and Bob Dylan. I love that. Because poetry really isn’t as highbrow as some people seem to think. I get that Shakespeare isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If I’m honest, he’s often not my favorite. But there’s poetry out there for everyone – whether your soul is moved by powerful imagery, by rhyme, or by rock lyrics you can sing along with at the top of your lungs.

If and when I get my hands on this book, I’ll let you know what gems I find inside. Who knows, it might inspire me to pore over a few lines of my own. Those are just for me, though. I take it you don’t mind.




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