To celebrate National Poetry Month, our Sundress editors are sharing some of their favorite poems, most influential poems, and poems that they are really digging right now. Put them all together, and you have the Sundress Poetry Playlist!
Today’s picks come from author of A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications 2013), Donna Vorreyer!
Jack Gilbert’s “Michiko Dead”
Jack Gilbert’s “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart”
Until I was introduced to “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” in a class I was taking with poet Katie Ford, I had appreciated poems but never really been stunned by one. You know, the take off the top of your head kind of stunned, as Dickinson says. It taught me that image, even if it isn’t perfectly clear or explained, has a power that exposition will never have. That a poem can speak to both the heart and the head. And it has become a sort of ars poetica for me- what better explanation of poetry is there than “How astonishing it is that language can almost mean, and frightening that it does not quite.”
After being introduced to Jack Gilbert by Katie, I immediately went and bought The Great Fires, which has become the book I read over and over to keep trying to unlock its beauty. “Michiko Dead” is both heartbreaking and ordinary, just like loss is in life. It explains the ongoing and uncomfortable nature of grief as something we never truly put down or away. It’s also one of the best teaching examples of metaphor. The simple language in the complex extension of the metaphor make it ideal for the teenagers I teach.