Find A Poet This Year
The year is still young enough to decide on new ways of doing things. One promise you might make is to read more widely. In the last year, during lockdown, I discovered a couple of terrific poets I wish I’d known about before. The way I found them was simple – scroll through a couple of the big poetry sites and read a poet who is new to you – no mystery.
One of my finds (perhaps I am years behind everyone else) was Marion Strobel. An American writer who was producing poems about a hundred years ago that remain sharp and fresh and still able to reposition the world for the reader. Yes, one or two perhaps have not stood the test of time or seem a little contrived for modern tastes, but there is still plenty to be knocked out by – like this surprising piece called ‘Spring Day’. Consider the title – what do we expect – familiar territory for poetry, flowers and all that stuff, right? Wrong:
I felt a fool
When you caught me smiling at myself
In the oval mirror;
But later in the day
A six-legged bug, 5
Taking ten minutes to climb across
The muscles of my arm,
Convinced me of my greatness.
The poem whose title, ‘Spring Day’, is conventional in topic so that the reader may think they know what is in store, surprises us and moves from embarrassment or shame (we are plunged into the moment), to feelings of confidence via an insect, in the space of just eight lines.
If you go here https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/marion-strobel then you will find a good number of Strobel’s poems to explore. Of the ones that drew me in are ‘Ennui’ and ‘Anticipation’ really struck me:
IF I suck the flame into my mouth,
Will it warm the places
You have left so bare?
I lean over the fire,
Flutter my fingers— 5
Dare my fingers down toward a spark.
I am cold—and tired:
Push me a little … Yes?