I was having coffee with a friend when he quoted a line of poetry which grabbed me instantly but which I did not recognize. He told me it was Emily Dickinson. I had never been a big fan of Dickinson, but his sample made me rush home to take a closer look. I had the volume of her collected poems on my bookshelves and a new reading showed me that there was much more there than I had seen before. Now I have a new discovery myself.
It’s these happy accidents that are one more way we can find new voices that speak to us. You read a quote that forms the chapter heading of a book. You hear a snippet quoted on a TV show or in a movie. One of your favorite authors talks about her favorite poet and there you have another lead to follow. To me, of all the ways to bring new poetic content into one’s life, this is the most delightful. It’s like discovering treasure, but it’s treaure that is all around us, all the time. We just have to be ready to spot it and snap it up.
This is how I came to appreciate Bukowski. He was the subject of an exhibit at the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, Ca. One item in the exhibit was a broadside of “The Bluebird.” The moment I read it I was changed from a skeptic to a convert. Like many converts, I tend to be a little over-zealous regarding his work. I don’t like this in other people, so I try not to be pushy. He’s not for everyone. No poet is. But with the huge range of styles, tones and forms used by poets past and present, I have confidence there is a poet out there to appeal to nearly every person. And, lucky me, I have many more poets just waiting to enrich my own life as well.