Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#25 (2013/CBR5) "Finding My Elegy" by Ursula K. Le Guin

When the pure act turns to drygoods
and the endless yearning
to an earned sum,
when payday comes:

the silly sniveling soul
had better run
stark naked to the woods
and dance to the beating drums (first two stanzas of Middle, p. 15)

Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (2012) by Ursula K. Le Guin was both a book and author I'd never heard of before I spotted this book in the library. The cover picture and title caught my eye, and I grabbed it on a whim. I like poetry when I understand it, and if it means something to me it can be incredibly powerful. However, I don't have a lot of experience with it. I don't really know the right way to attack a book of poetry and probably even less about reviewing a book of poetry. My personal strategy is just to read and see if something grabs me--usually either the choice of words or the meaning. And if it doesn't, I just move on. This makes for a somewhat uneven reading experience, which I'm guessing is normal when reading a book of poetry. Sometimes I find myself reading poem after poem with nothing really hitting me. I start to worry if the rest of the book is going to be the same. And then I'll come upon one that hits on my most personal feelings or fears but found a better way of expressing them. It's like finding an unexpected $10 bill in your pocket.

Ursula K. Le Guin is a renowned author of over sixty books of fiction, fantasy, science fiction, children's literature, poetry, drama, and more. She's won a bunch of literary prizes and one of her young adult books is now on my to-read list. I think it was partly Le Guin's breadth of work that convinced me to try her poems. I figured someone with an interest in so many different things would have interesting things to say.  

Finding My Elegy includes poems from 1960-2010. They are separated by topic. And here is where the review part of my review gets difficult: summarizing a book of poems written over half a century and regarding a wide variety of topics is challenging. I did find that Le Guin has a strong connection to the environment around her. She looks at questions of injustice as well as some more difficult questions of death--at least those were her poems that spoke most to me. I'd say that if you like poetry, then this book is worth reading.

Below, for my own sake, is a list of my favorite poems from this book in case I want to go back and read them over again someday.
-Ars Lunga (8)
-Song (9)
-The Marrow (13)
-Middle (15)
-The Aching Air (52-54)
-Infinitive (63)
-April in San Jose (73)
-Mount Rainier from Amtrak (74)
-Here, There, at the Marsh (81)
-A Request (89)
-The Mistake (100)
-The Next War (101)
-The Crest (102)
-Soldiers (103-105)
-The Elders at the Falls (109)
-Creation of the Horse (126)
-Grace (129)
-At the Center (151)
-GPS (156)
-Travel (161)
-My Birthday Present (164)
-Body of Water (170)
-Science (182)
-January Night Prayer (187)

No comments: