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 Sundress Assistant Editor Andrew Koch!
So, it’s obviously really difficult to track down the poems that are one’s most favorite or have been most influential, right? Are we all together on that one? I mean, there are So Many Poems, you guys. There are also so many factors that could impact one’s writing that sometimes it’s hard to discern if it was poetry that left that flavor in your mouth or if maybe you’re still just hungover. On any given day, for instance, it can be hard to distinguish between accidentally drinking spoiled milk and, say, reading Robert Frost. Or maybe, between an especially foul bout of indigestion and Billy Collins. Who’s to say?!
For another example, I just stumbled upon this poem the other day called “Symptomatic” by Nick Lantz and I think it might be one of the best poems I’ve ever read. However, spring just recently sprang where I live and all the dogwoods are blooming, so, there’s that. The poem strikes a seemingly impossible mix of moods between heartbreaking, pathetic, humorous and endearing. Also, it somehow pulls off using a parking garage as a compelling metaphor. While it’s not a sonnet, the final stanza seems to be something of a ‘turn’ that is striking in its brute force but also strangely fitting for a poem that deals with making the best out of what you have.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Robert Hass’ “The Problem of Describing Trees” is the most generous poem about the shortcomings of poetry ever written. Ever. On the chart of ‘favorite’ versus ‘influential’ this one is definitely higher more on the latter than the former. But I think that’s also part of the point of this poem. The line “It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us” is probably the first line of poetry I read that became a personal mantra. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it was the wind in the trees that stirred your creative juices, or if it was the poem about the wind in the trees that did it.
Andrew Koch is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee with a BA in creative writing. He’s had work published in Mojo and a piece forthcoming in you are here. In the fall of 2014, Andrew will be attending the MFA program at Eastern Washington University.