That’s why I want to open up my blog once more and turn it into a live platform where we can all share our love for poetry. I’ve done this before but never with poetry. A couple of years ago I organised an online debate on feminism right here on this very space. Click here, here and here to read the opinions of the five (female) contributors. That was followed by another forum on the gender divide in November 2010. You can read the original article here and the follow-up here.
This time around, though, what I would like to do is share with you a little hobby that some friends of mine and I used to indulge in when we were in uni. On those typically warm and humid Cuban afternoons, once lectures were over and I was done with my teaching (I was a teacher-student in those days) we would all repair to the famous, long, pink wall across from our faculty. When we were all seated and comfortable, someone would produce a book of poems from his or her bag and our game started.
“I open (book title0 on page X and read the first poem on the right handside”. That was the only abracadabra needed to unlock the treasure chest containing metaphors, similes and prosopopœias. That was our entertainment. I’m sure we’d seen it in a movie, probably a romantic one, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one. Or maybe it was a pastime someone else had come up with before and it’d been handed down from group to group over the years. The origin was not as important as the fun it brought. My friends and I were poetry enthusiasts at that time (especially after the success of the Argentinian film “El Lado Oscuro del Corazón”/The Dark Side of the Heart. I’ve already mentioned that movie on this blog a few times. Check it out on IMDB to find out why it was so essential to us, Cuban youngsters in the early 90s) so playing this game was a healthy way of reviving the art of reading poetry in public. Even if it was just to four or five other amigos.
Here’s the idea. Go to your bookshelf, reading room, local library, wherever you want to go, it doesn’t matter. Take a book of poems and let it open on your lap randomly on any page and just say to yourself: I open (book title) on page X and read the first poem on (you choose which side). Where a poem has already started and you’ve caught it halfway through, you can go back to the beginning of it and post it in its entirety. Next, e-mail me the poem at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your blog name (I know some of you use your real name online. That will be honoured, too), blog address and if you happen to be an artist (you might be a published author, or potter, or painter, or photographer), please, send relevant links to your work. I will post everything on my blog next Sunday at 10am.
The beauty of this game and it hasn’t really changed since I played it all those years ago is the surprise element. I trust that we’re all acquainted with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” line but probably less with others that might be equally enchanting. If you are a poet who has had her/his work published, then, of course, you can grab your own book and let it open on any page and pick a poem at random (maybe with your eyes closed?)
I tell you what, my lovely readers and fellow bloggers. You can eve riff off on the theme I’ve just given you. Say, you send me an e-mail that starts thus: “Yo, Cuban man, guess what? I was walking down the road with (book title) in hand and suddenly, out comes from this pub (name of the poem) tumbling around like a drunken sailor. Or, how about this: “Hey, you, past-being-Cuban-almost-a-Londoner, I was waiting on the queue in the supermarket the other day to pay for my weekly shopping, I was holding (book title) in my hand and when it was my turn to cough up, all of a sudden the cashier began to read (name of the poem).
Above all, this game relies on randomness. After all, many of us find good literature that way. So, let’s crack on, shall we. The length of the poem doesn’t matter, however, taking into account that we live in an age where attention span is shrinking rapidly, I would avoid any Coleridge collection. Imagine finding yourself halfway through the The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. If need be, I will post all contributions over two Sundays.
So, what are you waiting for, poets and poetry lovers? Get writing. I look forward to your submissions. In the meantime I'll leave you in the company of one of my recent musical "dicoveries". Doesn't French sound beautiful, especially on an autumn Sunday morning?
Next post: “Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music… Ad Infinitum”, to be published on Wednesday 28th November at 11:59pm (GMT)