Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Twelve Step Poetry Program

Over at Bookgazing the TWELVE STEP POETRY PROGRAM is starting in a few days. Since leaving university the only poetry I seem to read is those poems which I teach, and while I love those poems (for the most part) I have to read the same poems that are on the curriculum for the last 3 years - they're still great but I'm not getting any variety. I saw this challenge posted and thought it'd help.
Below is (copied and pasted) the challenge description.

At it’s simplest level the challenge requires that anyone who feels like joining reads twelve books of poetry, each by a different author, in twelve months. Each book must be the work of one poet (that means no anthologies, like ‘The 101 Best Love Poems’, are allowed). Inject your lives with poetry from 1st Sept 2009 – 30th Aug 2010.

However I know what you serious challenge addicts want. You want something that allows you to make an uber-complicated list which includes categories. I want that too, what is the point of a challenge without at least a provisional list? How much better is it if the list includes separate classifications? So for my personal challenge I’ll be reading two books from each of the six categories below:

2 female poets: There are tons of wonderful female poets I want to recommend – Wendy Cope, Dorothy Parker, Adrianne Rich are just a few.

2 translated poets: This is an area I know very little about, yay for new discoveries. Anyone have recommendations?

2 dead white male poets: I have plenty of recommendations for this category – Philip Larkin, William Blake, Robert Frost.

2 poets who have held an official poetry post: I’m British so I’m thinking of reading Poet Laureates like Carol Ann Duffy and Andrew Motion. You may want to find out about poets in other countries who have held equivalent positions.

2 black/ hispanic/ asian poets: You can read books by any poets who are not white for this category. Personal favourites of mine are Srikanth Reddy and Patricia Smith.

2 GLBT poets: I put this category in because I wanted to include all kinds of diversity, but if you find it hard to pick poets (because you’ve already read all the poets where their sexuality is publically known) then you’re free to replace it with two books of poetry where the authors write a specific type of poetry (such as comic poetry, epic poetry like Beowulf etc). Personally I’d recommend picking up something by the ‘Great War’ poets Wilfred Owen, Rupert Graves or Siegfried Sassoon to fulfil this category if you haven't already read their stuff.

Here’s the especially challenging part, you can’t overlap categories and use one poet to fill many categories (for example Carol Ann Duffy is gay, female and England’s current poet Laureate but you can only use her in one of those categories - you can pick which category you use her book to fulfil but she can only count for one). You can also only read one book by each poet. That means you’ll read twelve books by twelve poets in twelve months.

But wait there’s a third level of challenge! You can join me in making poetry an even bigger part of life. In my house sits Poetry Daily’s 2003 anthology, which has a poem from each day of the year. I plan to read a poem from this anthology every day from 1st Sept 2009 until the end of the challenge on 30th Aug 2010. If you want to go the extra mile and let poetry flood into your everyday life you can either read that anthology with me or read a poem daily at heir website.


Book bloggers don’t tend to review poetry, maybe because they don’t feel like they have the expertise to judge poetry, or because they’re not sure how to make their review format work for poetry. So, while you can fully review the books you read for this challenge if you like, you can also take the option of just sharing some of your favourite lines from the book (remember please don’t post full poems, there are copyright issues with that, instead link to full versions somewhere else). If you want to include anything else (poets biography, how particular poems made you feel etc) please do! I’d love to see all kinds of poetry related stuff popping up. I’ll sort out a way of organising the links to these posts later so people can find them.

Also there’s no need to post daily reviews of your daily poems, we’d all quickly be swamped!

So after the blather, the recap:

Challenge runs: 1st Sept 2009 – 30th Aug 2010

Challenge name: The Twelve Step Poetry Program

Option 1: 12 books of poetry, each by a different author
Option 2: 12 books of poetry, each by a different author, with two books chosen from each category mentioned above
Option 3: Option 2 + a poem a day from Poetry Daily until the end of the challenge

Sign up: In the comments below by leaving a link to a post you make about the challenge (including lists if you want). I hope loads to see a few challengers join me in September.

I'm going for the simple option, however I will try and read one collection from each of the categories above. I'm looking forward to discovering new poets to me, for an English graduate I have read surprisingly few, as well as rediscovering a few favorite poets.
I'll be grabbing my Carol Ann Duffy, Ted Hughes and T.S Eliot collections. Any other recommendations?

I'm also going to try and read a poem a day from my Penguin anthology - not sure if I'm going to read it in date order - that might put me off, or just by picking a random page a day.

P.S If you haven't read Carol Ann Duffy before, or you've just not read her for a while I highly recommend her collection 'The World's Wife', each poem is written from the view of the woman living in a famous man's shadow. Gems include poems by Elvis' sister, Shakespeare's wife and Midas' wife.


Jodie said...

Thanks for joining up Katrina! I'm going to read Carol Ann Duffy's 'Feminine Gospels' for the challenge. Why did we never get her good stuff in the anothologies at school (I just remember one poem about being a mother which didn't really resonate when I was 13).

Peta said...

I've joined up too and now seems like a good time to confess that I have never read any of Carol Ann Duffy's work... I shall look out for The World's Wife!

katrina said...

I'm reading Feminine Gospels as well, yay

Hazra said...

I agree, I've not read any poetry since high school, and I seriously think that's one area of literature I fall short on. I'm doing a fortnightly poetry review on my blog, and you're welcome to drop in.

Vivienne said...

Katrina - I just read your post on my blog. I am presuming that you are joining Shimelle's class for September. Am I right? Shimelle is usually to be found at Alexander Palace either demonstrating or lurking on the Banana Frog stall. The Big Stamp and Scrapbooking show there is the best place to go to pick up scrap stuff. I go without fail twice a year.