09 October 2009

Risking Everything:
110 Poems of Love and Revelation

edited by Roger Housden
If you've been to one of my workshops, you know how I love to read poetry--on my own and collectively with the group.

One of the many great things about a book of poetry is its comes with lots of great stopping points. You can read a little or a lot, depending on how much time you have, without feeling lost the next time you have time to pick the book back up.

Most poetry books are slim as well, with type that doesn't fill up the whole page, so you can finish them more quickly and feel more often that sense of accomplishment that comes from reading a book cover to cover.

Anthologies, which include poems by a variety of authors, often selected thematically by an editor, are a great way to discover poets you like and want to read more of. The poets selected in this book are some of my living favorites--Mary Oliver, Marge Piercy and Naomi Shihab Nye--as well as those I love who are no longer of this world--Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, Philip Larkin and Rumi.

The book showcased plenty more who I knew little about or nothing, and so reading it enabled me to add some names to my library follow-up list.

Most of Housden's books focus on some facet of the missing spiritual in life. The organizing principle of this book, in particular, is expressed in the first line of the introduction, where Housden asks, "Have you ever longed for a life in which every last part of you is entirely used up?" If so (even just once in a while), the poems cited here will point the way.

A brief biography of each poet fills out the 173 pages, along with an index of first lines.


I always picture them whispering
cool chants of time 
into the voided fingers of my hair.
I only stare as the ache shakes
a sweet-bitter milk from my head.
The smell is like a sad friend
drunk with rain.

PROMPT: Magnetic word tiles selected on the basis of what appealed to me that day. (I have LOTS!) Since the day I wrote it WAS an anniversary, that also became part of the prompt.