[The Poetry Concierge is an occasional feature here on Rosemary and Reading Glasses wherein I select a poem, poet, or book of poems for individual readers based on a short questionnaire. Come play along! Read the introductory post here, my first recommendation here, and then email me at: rosemaryandreadingglasses [at] gmail [dot] com. ]
This week, our pilgrim in search of poetry is the blogger who goes by Stressing Out Student (SOS).
1. When you read fiction, who’s your go-to author?
I don’t read much of any particular author. I usually look for the content to interest me before expecting the style to interest me. But the author I’ve read the most of would likely be John Steinbeck.
2. If you read nonfiction, which subjects are most likely to interest you? (cultural history, science, biography, memoir, survival stories?)
Psychology, behaviorial/social sciences, how the mind/people work
3. If you were stuck on a desert island for a week, which five books would you bring to keep you entertained?
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, horror short story anthology, The Stranger by Albert Camus, When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
4. If you were on a five-year mission to Mars, which five books would you bring to keep you sane?
The Stranger, Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace, 1984 by George Orwell
5. What kinds of questions are most likely to keep you up at night? (death, the nature of love, politics, environmental issues, meaning of life, end of the world, justice and injustice, etc?)
Am I doing the right thing? How can I know to do the right things at the right times? What does the future hold?
6. If you’ve read poetry before, what have you liked? What have you disliked?
“The Grasshopper” by E.E. Cummings
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth
“Dream within a Dream” Edgar Allan Poe
All of Shel Silverstein
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” John Keats
Well, when I saw Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman on SOS’s list of favorite authors, I thought, ha! Edgar Allan Poe! — only to have my first thought dashed in question 6 (yes, if you tell me you like a poet, I do feel obliged to find a new one for you to like).
Enter Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet and critic, rehabilitator of Shakespeare and Milton, and perhaps the most productive opium addict the world has ever seen. His writing influenced Wordsworth and the rest of the Romantics (and he was one himself, of course), some of his most famous poems tell strange and fantastic stories (a la Pratchett & Gaiman), and the workings of the human mind are certainly at the forefront of his poetic concerns.
This week’s poem of the week, and the poem I especially commend to SOS, is “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” first published in Lyrical Ballads (though this links to a later version). Why? Check out the listing of its subjects given by the Poetry Foundation: “Religion, Crime & Punishment, Living, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Horror, Faith & Doubt, Nature, Christianity, Weather, Death, Mythology & Folklore, Animals, God & the Divine.”
This poem’s got it all. Except romance, and hey, we can all use a break from that once in a while, right?
SOS, I hope you find something to love in these poems. Thanks for writing in!
Would you like the Poetry Concierge to make a recommendation for you? Check out the introductory post, and send your answers to the questionnaire, along with the name and/or blog you’d like posted with the reply, to rosemaryandreadingglasses [at] gmail [dot] com.