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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Poetry Envelope, A Personal Anthology

For more than ten years I have kept a computer file labeled “Poems I Admire.” Whenever I come across a poem I consider truly inspiring, I save it into this file. Often these are by poets I have never heard of or am just learning about.  And then I never think to look at them again. This is almost as bad as my kitchen junk drawer!

Recently I decided that the best ‘anthology’ I could read is the one I have created by accumulation from brief ‘wow’ moments of my reading life. I have been printing these off and putting them in an envelope so I can draw one at random when I have a moment to savor what another mind has chosen to address.

This exercise has also reminded me of what I call ‘the infinity of a poem.’ Each time I approach a truly well-crafted gem, one line, one image, one word open up a new world for me. This is the way with all great art. It invites you in over and over. And each time you enter there seems to be a different room or a new path through the forest.

With most of these poems, I remember when and why I originally chose them. Often they were featured on a website or poem-a-day or I read them in a journal or anthology. A few I don’t seem to recall having read at all. What a joy to discover them again!

I love to ‘enter’ a poem that touches me, that feels comfortable in both my mind and heart – or uncomfortable which can be important too. I know I have entered a kindred language in a familiar country. I feel at home. I know my own writing is endlessly enriched by the linguistic and imagistic skill of others pursuing the art of verse.

If you don’t have a file of admirable poems, think about starting one. And if you are a hard copy reader like I am as well, print them so that when a day that especially calls for inspiration arrives, you will have a personal anthology to draw from.

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