Today I will read a poem, Robert Service’s New Year’s Eve. When I reach the final stanza, I will have successfully fulfilled this year’s resolution to read a poem a day. It seems likely that, as I speculated last January, I have made reading poetry a habit. I’ll miss the poem-a-day regimen, but I’m looking forward to the freedom to read poetry indiscriminately, without checking to see that it is, in fact, a new poem for the day, and not one that I’d read earlier in the year. I may well end up reading a poem a day naturally, but if I find several that catch my fancy, I won’t feel compelled to schedule them for another day. Heck, if I want to, I can read a whole book of poetry at one sitting!
I’m glad I did this. It introduced me to poets I had not known; it exposed me to lesser-known works by favorite poets. I particularly enjoyed reading poems seasonally, and I’ve taken steps to enjoy that further in the coming year. For instance, I like Adrienne Rich’s Toward the Solstice, a poem that speaks of the 30th of May and the 30th of November. In 2011, on each of those dates, I will find a reminder in my Franklin Planner to read that poem again. It’s a small gift to my future self from my present self.
Further, I’ve discovered that a book of one of my favorite poet’s work can be read calendrically. I’ll be laying out my reading plan for that book soon, for anyone who may be interested in following it in the coming year.
Some of the poems that particularly caught my attention this year include:
Rodney Jones, Shame the Monsters.
Galway Kinnell, Last Gods.
Mary Oliver, Winter, Lonely White Fields, and The Lamps.
Robert Service, The Trapper’s Christmas Eve.
John O’Donohue, A Morning Offering.
David Kirby, A Cowardice of Husbands.
William Butler Yeats, Hound Voice (I’ve loved this one a long time!).
Nathalia Crane, The Janitor’s Boy.
Seamus Heaney, The Singer’s House.
And Victoria Redel’s, Bedecked, perhaps the best poem I read all year!
In a small, perhaps insignificant way, this year’s resolution has improved and enriched my life. If I have a resolution for 2011, I hope it’ll have a similar effect.
POST SCRIPT: Having read today’s selection, I don’t recommend it as a New Year’s poem! It’s beautiful, but full of pathos. Not quite what I had in mind!