Thursday, July 31, 2008

Preface to a Month of Poems

This is a shaggy dog tale if there ever was one and I'm not sure how interesting it will be to others, but I find it a curious example of how the mind works. At least, my mind.

I am about to start a new post where I will read and comment on a poem every day for at least a month. The process will be:

  • Each day I will read a poem by a different poet
  • I will will then write a short comment about the poem, the poet, or some random thought the reading of it instigates.
  • At the end of the month I will either stop, or if I still find it interesting, I'll keep going.
Since this is an experiment and I don't want to bloat this site with lots of short -- possibly boring -- entries, the entire month of poems will be a single post that I will edit each day.

Why do this? Well, that's what I find curious. It all started when I was cleaning my office and looking at my shelf (actually, shelves) of Nintendo DS games, several of which are still in the wrapper. I want to play them, I just don't have a lot of time. That's when it occurred to me to help encourage me to play them by creating an exercise: a month of video games.

The original idea was to play a different video game a day for an entire month. That would get me through most of my DS collection, including both games I've played before and those I haven't. I could then use the excuse of commenting on them here in my blog to complete the exercise.

Unfortunately, there was an immediate problem with this plan. Video games, even the simplest ones, take time to get used to. Quite frankly, even if I played for an hour a day, there are a number of games where I would not get sufficiently involved in or comfortable with their controls to do any more than frustrate myself.

So that wasn't going to work. Next step was to think of similar things that I don't spend enough time with. The obvious answer was my collection of poetry books. I had recently rearranged the bookshelves and --for lack of any better scheme and as a change from my previous by school or genre organization -- I sorted the books alphabetically by author.

So the next plan was to read a book a day for a month, reading from one end of the shelf to the other. Since I have far too many books to read them all (that would be more like a year of poetry), I decided to limit it to a different poet each day.

But I still have the problem of time. Poetry books, like video games, take a while to get involved with. To be fair to a book of poems you need to familiarize yourself with the poet's voice (or voices), their style, what you could refer to as the ontology of their poetic world... But unlike video games, poetry books are made up of individual poems that are -- in most cases -- intended to stand on their own. They do not require learning a control scheme, a background story, or any other prerequisites.

Which led me to my final refinement: reading a single poem by a different poet each day for a month. I have no idea if this will result in any useful revelations for either myself or the readers of my blog. That is why it is an experiment. But succeed or fail, it should be interesting to find out what happens.

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