From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
Poetry was never my thing growing up. English classes weren’t bad—certainly better than math or science—but invariably we’d have a section on poetry which left me bored stiff. I just couldn’t get into it. Give me a novel with plotlines, character development, and a descriptive narrative that I could sink my teeth into, but poems left me cold. Why bother with them.
It took a long time for me to come around to poetry and it happened by chance. Then US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser was to speak at an evening event at PSU and my mother, Betty Vequist, and Helen Kreigsman wanted to attend. All of them were then in their 80’s, none were particularly ambulatory, nor should they have been driving at night, so I was volunteered for chauffeur duty.
After dropping them off at the curb, I parked, walked across to the Student Union, and found myself in a crowded room sitting near the front when a diminutive man stepped up to the podium and began reciting his works. I was mesmerized and everything I thought I disliked about poetry just disappeared. He said more with fewer words than many lengthy novels and tomes. He continues to be my #1 favorite poet after converting me to the power and magic of poetry that evening.
I still don’t like all poetry, just as I don’t care for all fiction. But now I give it a try. I’m not a fan of flowery sonnets and odes, and prefer the more down to earth verse. Hosting the likes of Melissa Fite Johnson, Al Ortolani, JT Knoll, Adam Jameson, and HC Palmer (all Kansas Notable Book winners) has given me a greater appreciation of describing everyday situations in a concise yet lyrical way. And oh, the words of the small but mighty Amanda Gorman send chills down my spines.
“Each poem is a tiny door,
or better still,
a window…”
The beginning of David Young’s “Basho” sums up my feelings about poetry. April is the month we celebrate all the poets and their various works. If, like me, you grew up not liking poetry much, give it a try. Opening that tiny door may lead you to many new paths of poetic enjoyment.