In the past year as I’ve continued my independent study of poetry, I’ve become acquainted with some contemporary poets of the UK. The latest is Oxford-educated Alice Oswald, who lives in Devon and often has the natural world at the center of her work. Thus far I’ve only had a brief read of some of her poems that are available online, but my gosh am I ready to dive head first into her work! In the coming days I’ll be placing a book order that will include her brilliance amongst the stack. The following link includes text of the poem where I ‘met’ her, “A Short Story of Falling,” as well as a video of her reading said poem and some of her thoughts on memorization vs recitation. I would love to be at one of her readings as apparently they are not readings at all: she memorizes her work and recites it to those in attendance. I can only surmise what a powerful experience this must be, and what an extraordinary connection between poet and audience. She’s quoted in the link below as saying ““I do very much believe in poetry as a kind of tune or music,” and I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to reading just how much we might have in common in addition to nature and music.
I am someone who was ‘raised’ literature-wise to find the meaning of the text, and to not project my own psychology onto it. Maybe this is why I don’t like there to be any ambiguity in my own poems, although I seem to be loosening my adherence to this somewhat. I can’t help but think of the state of the world right now, in my own country the US, and in the UK where I am lucky to have a number of good friends and which feels like a second home to me, when I read the following lines from Oswald’s poem:
then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience
My own ‘stuff’ speaking here of course. How lucky we all are to have such beauty help us ponder the ugliness in the world.