Here’s my latest intro for Image Journal‘s Poetry Friday column. I’m writing about Marjorie Stelmach’s poem “Cellar Door,” from Issue 79.
I share these short intros here with you because it’s such a joy to write them, and an honor to be invited by Image to do so monthly, as it’s a journal I read regularly and really respect.
During busy weeks spent teaching and playing with my energetic toddler– days that start at 5 am and don’t stop until I sink into bed around 10– along with the more technical writing I do as a grant writer, it’s a great pleasure to pause and really take in a poem. I usually read the selected poem over the course of a few weeks, highlighting and underlining the phrases that draw me in, looking up unfamiliar references, researching context. And then I get to tackle the challenge of describing as plainly as possible how the poem works its magic on me.
Every time I write for Image, I think about Tania Runyan’s lovely little book How to Read a Poem— a poet and a book I discovered, in turn, through writing reviews for Image Update, the journal’s awesome newsletter. I run through Runyan’s tips for unlocking a poem’s mysteries: listen to consonants and rhythm, notice the images, check out how the lines are shaped, focus on the moments of surprise or discovery, and most of all, just let the poem be.
I hope you’ll join me and the other poets who “introduce” poems every Friday over at Image, and maybe even contribute your own thoughts on what makes a poem sing to you.
Image: Via Image Journal