Why I read poetry, and why this exists

I think it was Robert Frost who said, “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” And then I would like to believe that after awhile it transforms, changes, molds you, together with the words, until there is nothing left but your hands, holding “emptiness, wholeness; a cave, a cathedral.” (B.H. Fairchild)

This is an attempt to find bits and pieces of my life tucked away in poems, waiting to be found, waiting to meet me, again, in another universe. I think I have lived through worlds, a hundred of them, a thousand, little puzzles told by poets who knew exactly what I was feeling, even if I couldn’t give them names for it.

Like other things I can’t explain, this is just something I need to do.

Written 10 August 2005.

***

Postscript: I’ve been getting a lot of letters lately, comments, too, and letters disguised as comments. Mostly to talk to me about their sadness and love, and that exquisite beauty of irony, pain and melancholy. Thank you. Yes, I have been reading poems every day for the past few years. Yes, I have been posting every day. Yes, most of them are private. Yes, sometimes I reread old entries and feel that I am ready to share them now. No, not a lot of people know about this, and I can’t remember sharing them with friends. Yes, some of these poems come from books that I have with me, and some were copied and written down in old sketchbooks, journals, random sheets of paper I have with me whenever I visited the library. No, this is not a resource for scholarly and academic work, and I’m sorry I can’t help you out with the poem you are looking for. No, I don’t earn money from this. Yes, I quote poetry in my entries sometimes. No, I do not and will never claim these poems as my own. Yes, everything written here is all the days of my life blurring into one another. Yes, I write. No, I don’t want to do anything else, except write some more and read some more, and maybe — just maybe — receive long love letters addressed to me.

Written 25 March 2008.

***

Dear reader: I almost said, dear read-dear, because words are flying a thousand miles a minute in my head lately, and sometimes they all get jumbled up, and yes, you are dear to me, you who have stumbled here just now, looking bleary-eyed and soul-weary. I have been receiving more and more letters lately. Please know that I am trying to get back to you as soon as I can. If you know me in person, to answer your question: yes, this is a little corner that I have been keeping since 2005. Come sit with me. You see, this is a part of my life that I am unraveling in silence. I am sorry I haven’t told you about it, but I want to keep quiet, and I hope you understand that I want to keep it that way for years and years. As for you, dear stranger, well, hello. This is as good as any other place to meet, so I am happy that you are here. You asked me if the title of my blog came from this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

No, but it is beautiful. Thank you for showing it to me. As for the most common questions I have had the pleasure of receiving: yes, there are posts every day. I shall try not to repeat myself. No, I am not a Lit major, something that makes me sad sometimes, but also relieved, because at least I never read for requirement which makes my brain hurt. Yes, I am a writer. Yes and no, in terms of whether I think I am a good one; the answer depends on my fluctuating self-belief and the number of drinks I’ve had in one sitting. Yes, I’m a melancholy fuck bastard, thank you. (Edited, because in retrospect, I didn’t mean it that way.) Yes, I am sorry for not posting the source/book where I found the poems: most of them, especially the entries a few years back, are all hurriedly copied from books I have borrowed in the library. Once I have more time in my hands I will go back to the beginning and try to provide references for each one. Please understand that I do not profit from this and if you happen to be one of the authors and would like me to remove your poem, I would do so. You only have to ask. Yes, sometimes my posts can be obscure; let’s leave it at that. No, please don’t post your work in the comments for marketing purposes; this is not the place for that. Also: I edit the comments referring to who I am, and where I live, to protect myself. I need to stay hidden. It is important to me. Yes, you can write me here: readalittlepoetry at gmail dot com.

Yes, I was in love, still am, and yes, I’m a fool, a constant fool. If I wasn’t you wouldn’t be here. This will not exist.

Written 19 February 2011.

***

I have been writing here since 2005. That’s a long time to stay in one place—yet these years are enough to call this home. Many things have changed, but some things remain the same.

The one constant, perhaps, is how I write all of This, which is to say, all the words that precede the poems are mine, unless otherwise indicated.

The poems I post are from books in my personal collection, or jotted in notebooks, journals, scraps of paper years back when I was still studying and borrowing copies from friends or the school library. I am currently working through my own archive to make sure that everything is properly sourced—if not to the book where the poem was published, then to a website link.

Please give credit where possible—to the poet and his/her poem, or to me, in case you are interested in the text that comes before the poems.

At the moment, I do not have my own web hosting, so you will probably see advertisements. I do not earn anything from these, rather, it is a situation I am in because the service that keeps this blog running is free. This place is purely created out of love.

Written August 2014.

57 Comments

  1. I just want to let you know I’ve followed your blog for years and thank you so much for keeping it up. I’ve learned about so many new poems and authors thanks to you, and your life as well. All the best to you and take care.

  2. What a goddess-send, this blog. Thank you for your candor and wonderful writing, and for sharing poems I might have taken years and decades to get around to discovering, if I discovered them at all…

    From a fellow writer who struggles mightily with self-belief and conviction and the motivation to keep writing, who loves Mary Oliver, and who has many private little corners in the blogosphere where she stores lyrical snippets and whimsical first drafts.

  3. I just happened to be here at your blog, by chance , and i loved it. It rarely happens that you rake up old leaves and discover a silver tassel hidden among them. I felt like that. And don’t you think it’s a wonderful feeling to know what you want and what you don’t , what you like and what you don’t? Happy to be here and shall visit again! :)

  4. The razor claws of loneliness have gripped me tonight; I do not admit this, but I have. You have to help me, as you seem to know. I just need talking, to keep the art of conversation living.

  5. Poetry: “The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” ~William Wordsworth~

  6. Found your blog today, as I was searching for the full text of an e.e. cummings poem to email to a friend of mine – we’re both going through our own trials. I just lost a love and a home, and she is looking for work and a new place to live. It’s as though I’m remembering what art can do, and why art about hard things is so satisfyingly necessary. I’ve never been particularly good at making art, especially not when I’m unhappy, but am so grateful for the clear distillation of the world that poetry provides in times of confusion. Poetry has been getting me through in a way I never gave it credit for before.

  7. In my darkest nights, I knew I could always find a poet or a poem that identified the exact same feeling and which allowed me hope.

    That’s why I read poetry.

  8. I discovered your blog a few years ago, when I was going through one of my own times, my own trial, test, learning about life, myself. I think I spent the next three weeks or so reading back through your posts. It was a heartening experience: when someone else knows your burden, it somehow becomes easier to bear, easier to accept.

    Thank you. You gave that to me, and I have never acknowledged it.

    I can only hope you will return to this space. The pieces you have shared have made so many of my days richer, and I hope that other readers get to share that experience, and not steal it.

  9. To everyone else who comes here and who loves this site as much as I do, let us all be vigilant and make sure our dear author doesn’t get plagiarized by other opportunistic bloggers!

    Your avid reader and comrade,
    Carlos

  10. I already sent you an email. I just think you should know about that because your blog changed my life. I want to thank you always for the things you post. Please come back also.

    Your avid reader and comrade,
    Carlos

  11. Poetry has reaffirmed every morsel of emotion I have had for the past few years going through depression, a father’s death, loneliness, divorce, a new love and now a new life. With poems I am not alone. Thank you for posting some of the best.

  12. Thank heavens. I was relieved immediately as I read; “was in love, still am, a fool… A constant fool”. I guess this foolish act I just can’t stop has been bothering me. “Once bitten twice shy” isnt that what I’m suppose to do.? But no. No matter how ugly he’s made himself, he’s still just so beautiful.

  13. I came across this whilst searching for The Cinnamon Peeler’s wife online, I wanted to send it to my love. I did. Now I keep coming back to read you……a little bit of joy in my day…..thank you

  14. This is a beautiful, beautiful blog. It was love at first sight, when I saw agha’s work here, then I saw strand and cummings and the courting began. Paz, gilbert and Neruda whispered the sweet nothings of a summer romance. O’hara, atwood and cope sealed the contract. thankyou for this beautiful site :)

  15. how I came across your blog, I have no idea…aimlessly wandering….lonely heart. something happened though and I had to write my own poem which came pouring out of me. The release and peace I felt afterwards was so cathartic and so I thank you.

  16. Thank you for this absolute treasure trove of delicious words. I stumbled across it by accident and harbour just a little tinge of regret because I know I’ll spend far too much time here :)

  17. I came here while overwhelmed by pain and sadness. I let other’s far greater than I give those feelings voice.
    Thank you for this place

  18. I am sad today . Very sad. And the only thing that made me get through today was this place. Your love for poetry reinstills my faith in mankind and gives me a place to run to. Thank you.

  19. I love your blog. I’ve memorized its URL. And it’s in my Most Visited at Google Chrome. Your blog brightens up my day and like you, I find poems to which I can relate. Moreover, it inspires me to be a better writer. Thank you for creating this.

  20. I have found a treasure. Thank you so much for starting and maintaining this blog. I enjoy reading through the poems and your little introductions to them; I love how you somehow “own” them. Thank you. Keep reading & writing!

  21. I just realized you’re from █████ and it made me extra happy. You have such an inspiring blog. I think my love for poems started because of randomly looking for Marge Piercy and then finding so much more in your pages. Please don’t stop; continue doing the lovely effort. We appreciate your work. And we long for more.

  22. Hi. I just want to say that you have a really lovely blog and a beautiful collection of poems here. I started with reading Having A Coke with You and I didn’t notice that nearly an hour has passed by already while I go through the other poems.

    I would love to write to you one of these days and maybe you can give me a poem that would suit this….mixed feelings I’m having.

    Again, I enjoyed your blog!

    xo,
    Mara

  23. I only found this blog a few months ago.It’s beautiful, the poetry is beautiful, the raw snippets of your life are beautiful. Thank you very much

  24. You are, by far, the most interesting person I’ve never met. I think this blog is interesting not only because of the poems you post, but also the story behind it. It is obvious that you choose the poem for a reason, and that it has a connection with what happened to you on that particular day/night. I think that’s what I appreciate the most and why I keep coming back. You don’t simply put something there – you take time, you care. Have you ever considered compiling this all in a book? I’d be the first in line.

    Dear T., whoever you are: I think I love you, truly. I haven’t thought it’s possible until today. I am not a prolific a writer as young Adam a few comments below me, but let me say that I could feel your hurt all the way from here and I long to protect you.

  25. she wrote to me once too and it was one of the most beautiful things ive ever read. well tbh i havent received many letters in my life. i feel guilty because my reply is pretty much crap. just came in here to say that contrary to the other comments, the author of this blog is a woman. not sure it matters but i think everyone should know. if you love this and if you love the things she posts, i encourage everyone to write her even just to say thank you. another thing is, i dont know if this qualifies as obssessive but ive taken to looking at tumblr like what the other commenter has said and found some stuff there that was originally from here. i dont know what is the position of the owner of this blog but for my part i ask the tumblr people to give credit where credit is due. ciao

  26. Adam, thank you for saying what I have wanted to say for so long but never found words good enough to say. I feel the same way about not giving him credit for his beautifully chosen poetry.

    And dear blogger, what Adam said.
    Thank you for being Robinhood and throwing out to us those treasures which we so pine for. Funnily enough, I too had come looking for ” Having a Coke with you when I read your other posts and then this, your blog description. I got hooked.
    “I love you more than I can say, if I could tell you, I’d let you know.” ( Auden, my favorite)

  27. its the story about that day i was searching “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski, i entered here n ‘m really pleased after that i visit often whenever e-mail notifier inform me that, there is a new poem arrived.

  28. I just made my way across the net and onto this blog and I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit! I am so excited for the innovative way you structure your posts – a bit of commentary that relates to your life preceding the poem. I started my own lit blog this past summer, and the way I discuss literature has evolved into trying to discuss a work through the lens of my life, my context (well at least that is one thing I’ve tried to do with the blog). Isn’t that why art matters to us, because it somehow reaches out and connects with our lives? Anyway, I am not sure how successful I’ve been yet but I think what you are doing here is beautiful and I can’t wait to read more. Thank you for creating this fantastic archive!

  29. Thank you for your words and your poems..it resonates through the pulse of me, it includes me in this evanescent world and makes me feel less of a fool somehow.

  30. There’s so much I want to say but I don’t know where to start. I’ve been following this blog for years but this is the only time I’m reaching out. I guess this is my love letter to you. I also want the rest of the world to know how lovely you are – I want to give them a glimpse of the person behind this site. I know for a fact that you have never replied publicly to anyone who left a comment, but here’s one thing casual readers don’t know: you write letters to most of us. (Well….not yet to me.) It might take months, but you indeed write.

    I know about it because you wrote to a friend of mine, and up to now he hasn’t found the courage to write back. (I have finally found mine.) He came here because of Gregory Orr. I found you because I was looking for works by Izumi Shikibu. I can’t speak for him, but as for me, that was 2005. I never left. I’ve always been here. (I’m sorry if that sounds creepy, but it’s true.) The way you write has affected me so much. I don’t know why it took me six years to leave a comment, but here I am.

    I hope you don’t mind, but my friend and I have talked about you a lot of times. He said that you are someone famous but trying to live a hermetic life. My guess is that you’re a poet but seem to have an aversion to publishing or at least the public life of being a writer. He also said that you are a librarian who spends all day in the company of books. We could both be wrong. Who knows, you are probably a man. (I am trying to be funny.)

    I wish those who came here looking for O’Hara will leave having read more than one poem they came to seek out. (I keep hoping that the most read poem, Having a Coke With You, won’t be there forever.) I wish they would know Walcott, Snyder, Gilbert, McDaniel and Yevtushenko. These are only some of the poets that I discovered through you.

    I hate that some of poems that appeared here are suddenly all over Tumblr, the same day or a few days after you’ve posted them, without credit to your blog. I know that they come here because your choices are pretty awesome. It’s like you have created a soundtrack for all our lives, only with poetry. And then they come here, just looking for material. They don’t give you credit, they don’t even thank you.This blog is so much more than just an archive for poetry. For me you have created a place where art can touch my life and I need not feel guilty nor elitist about it, like there’s something beautiful at work here that I can’t find a name for. (Does anyone reading this feel the same way I do?)

    When you’re going through rough times, I want so badly to talk to you and say you’re not alone. You’re beautiful when you’re sad. What more when you’re happy?

    I know you’re reading all of our comments. That you may not reply, but the fact that it gets approved means it’s your way of communicating and of saying hello back. So I will be waiting day after day until I see this letter on this page. Then I’ll know you have read it, and it will be enough for me. At least for now. (I am saying everything I want to say as fast as I can say it, because like my friend I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage again.)

    I don’t want to take another six years before I can say thank you for doing this. Thank you for existing. Thank you for your beautiful life. Thank you for bringing my friend and I closer. (Although I think we are both in love with you.) Thank you for not getting creeped out. Thank you for finding all these poems. Thank you for not leaving, even if you came close to doing so a lot of times. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself even when saying very little.

    I want to end this letter by asking if you have read The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras. There is a line there that reminds me of you:

    “That she had so completely recovered her sanity was a source of sadness to her. One should never be cured of one’s passion.”

    I hope you never stop being yourself. You don’t know how much it means to all of us.

    Sincerely,
    Adam

    1. The sincerity of this post/comment nearly brought me to tears. If I’m honest, I would say that there is surely one lingering in the corner of my eye. Fear and courage can be tricky, sticky little emotions- both quite subjective in nature, yet disguised as generic. As if two people can really be courageous or fearful in the same way. I’m glad you did find the courage to say the words above. They are beautifully woven, punctiliously chosen words coming together to form a shroud of expressed comfort that even I, a newcomer here, can feel and take solace in. Wonderful job, Adam.

      -Lizz

  31. Hey, Tony. Read “The Word” on The Writer’s Almanac and it has stayed with me for weeks, so I decided to research you. Here you are, hidden in a strange, wonderful little corner in cyberspace. You remind me of myself. Isn’t that what good writers do–connect with strangers? just wanted to tell you that your poem lifted me, pleased me, has become part of me. I am off to find more of you to read.

  32. Hi. I stumbled in your blog today and I stayed for hours. I hope that’s fine. I love your blog. It’s mysterious and it just oozes comfort. I’ve always been interested in poetry but never really indulged myself in it. I think that your blog is a nice place to start to know more about it. I just want to thank you for making this site and for making me smile today.

  33. Never really thought i would read a very random essays (if ou call this one) like this. But anyway, i found myself enjoying reading it. Hope to hear from you mr. author. :D

  34. Maundy Thursday: What a blessing to stumble upon this blog.

    I love poetry, and found new favorites here. I think you’re from █████. Hello. Thank you for putting this up.

  35. I’m so glad I found this blog… thank you for posting all of these poems. ^^
    Take care, wherever you are.

  36. where on the planet do you reside? just curious about geography in the large sense.
    thanks for posting the poems.

  37. Love your blog, photos and especially choice of poetry. There’s a melancholy consistency about them, and how damaging to the soul if one dwells on their implications too much. Have you been reading happier poetry?

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