June 18, 2007 at 6:49 am 6 comments

Traveller asked me about my favourite poets. Well…

Poetry for me is about wonder. I was going to write that poetry for me is about language, but it is about more than this. What I love a poem to do is to prize open a space which had been closed, to turn a moment inside out. To shine with ‘Heracletian fire’, to borrow a phrase from one of my favourites. In the process, it can be joyful, or whimsical, or sad, or funny, but it needs to have this resonance to it, to make something inside you twist with recognition.

Poets who have made me catch my breath, or laugh out loud, or tremble inside, or smile, with awe and wonder: Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Seamus Heaney, e.e. cummings, Wendy Cope, Sharon Oldes, Miroslav Holub, Zbignew Herbert, Carol Ann Duffy. I like some Anglo-Saxon poems too: Beowulf, The Wanderer, The Wonders of Creation. My favourite medieval poet is the Gawain-poet, or, more specifically, the Pearl-poet. No one knows this person’s name – they are usually assumed to have written both these poems, but no one can be sure. Gawain and the Green Knight is the more famous, but Pearl is special. I’ll write more about it some time. It’s contemporary with Chaucer but a lot more difficult to understand, because it’s alliterative, and in an obscure dialect. The language is completely amazing, like great heaps of shining jewels.

My Phd is about four Australian poets: Les Murray, Randolph Stow (who writes novels too), Francis Webb and Kevin Hart. I love all of them, that’s why I chose to work with them. Other Australian poets I love include Judith Wright and Gwen Harwood. That’s it for now. I haven’t forgotten about Bookeywookey’s poetry challenge – I’ll get onto that soon.

Who are your favourite poets?


Entry filed under: poetry.

Book Awards Reading Challenge Rain Poems

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Arukiyomi  |  June 21, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    poetry… I’m really going to have to get into it one day but I have no idea where to start. I want something that moves me, makes me cry or see the world or myself in a new way.

    Seeing as you’re a doctor 😉 could you prescribe something to start my cure off!

  • 2. troppo  |  June 21, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    From left field you have come. Now I know how to explain why I paint what I paint. Each painting, like each poem, has its conception from a sense of wonder. Of course! Thank you thank you! T S Eliot stays with me, but I am older. Emily Dickinson seduced me for quite a few years. Many more…

  • 3. meli  |  June 22, 2007 at 6:38 am

    troppo: glad to help! 🙂

    arukiyomi: I’m not a doctor yet, and I thought I couldn’t help you. But it turns out I have just the thing! The answer is in the form of an anthology – and not just any anthology. Staying Alive, edited by Neil Astley. Although its sequel, Being Alive, is just as good and perhaps better. They are published in the UK and my mum (in Australia) loves them so much that she keeps ordering them in to give to people. These collections are crammed with wonderful incredible amazing poems – should be just what you’re after. Dip in and flick around – poetry is to be absorbed and savoured – not plowed through cover to cover.

  • 4. Traveller  |  June 22, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve been a bit slow with my blog reading of late – thanks for the response to my question, I always love hearing about the poetry or poets other people enjoy. I love your suggestion to Arukiyomi too – an anthology is exactly the way to get started with poetry! I got one of my friends into TS Eliot among others vis an anthology called The Nation’s Favourite Poems (from Britain.)

  • 5. fifi  |  June 29, 2007 at 5:25 am

    So many poems, where to start.

    I was happy to see we have some poets in common, seamus and dylan. I am working on a series at the moment called Salt and Root and Roe. Which is from Dylan Thomas, who I love.
    I have always loved one called prologue.
    About two months ago, it sddenly revealed itself to be in mirror-image. Halfway through it turns in on itself and goes backwards …. I never knew, and I actually gasped in surprise. So its like a beautifully crafted image with a reflection…oh frabjous day when one gets a gift like that…

    I need not mention Les as I have before,
    I like the sound of the Anthology, I might order it too. Before my credit card blows up.

    Are you able to get Carpentaria by Alexis Wright?

  • 6. Ted  |  July 9, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    nice question Meli – my faves today if pressed are Emily D., Frank O’Hara, Pablo Neruda, and James Wright.

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