I took my car to the dealer for service yesterday. My dealer, like many, hires seniors to drive customers to and fro in company shuttles. (No, I’m not in that senior group yet. Maybe we should have Sr. Seniors and Jr. Seniors).
My shuttle driver was an elderly man with gray hair in need of a cut. After the initial silence (of about 45 seconds), we began to talk at the same time. He won that battle.
He told me his story the whole way home. At one point, I inserted a comment, but he glanced at me as if he’d seen a tree speak, so I shut up.
He told me the story of how he, an ambitionless twenty-something, had become a successful Flying Tiger and commercial airline pilot. He’d had no college, was deaf in one ear, and was approaching 30 years old when he started learning to fly.
Pretty interesting story. Then he explained that although he didn’t have any college (a requirement for being a commercial pilot), he had learned on his own by way of his family’s encyclopedia.
By the time I was 20 I’d read all the books of the encyclopedia, only skipping medicine, music, and poetry. I hate the pus and blood of medicine, I’m lousy at music, and poetry–well, I think poetry is for dreamers, not doers.
Oh man. In my mind, I was envisioning Doll God
floating off into the clouds.
Where do people get the idea that poetry is from Dreamland? It’s grounded in absolute reality. In fact, it has more reality to it than real life. By that I mean that in real life we ignore a lot around us as we struggle just to live our lives day by day. But poetry can’t ignore that stuff. It has to dig right in.
Back to Joe. As I was unfolding myself from the van, he told me about his book on Amazon and that I ought to look it up.
I almost said, “My poetry book is on Amazon, too.”
But I didn’t. Either it was because I’m too kind and didn’t want to embarrass him or it was because I’m a coward and didn’t want to get the trees-have-voices! stare again. Maybe it was a little of both.
Do you agree with me about poetry or do you like to think of it as a dreamer’s refuge?
P.S. I did look up his book and it looks good. If you’re interested in a true adventure (and to find out how he was accepted with all those negatives against him), email me for the book title. I’d like this post to remain a bit anonymous ;).
73 responses to “Book Promoting ;)”
I don’t want to read his book, even if it’s good. I’ve got an aversion to people who dominate conversations.
I do so wish you’d said your poetry book is on Amazon as well.
I am picky about poetry, and kinda need to be in a mood to read it. Unless it’s poetry I know well. Well then it’s like a gift that never stops giving 🙂
Joey, I do like to listen to people especially when they have an interesting story, but it’s nice if they acknowledge the presence of the listener ;). I should have said it, huh? Ugh, I thought he would feel like an ass that he had said that about poetry.
So well put about a gift that never stops giving. There are poems I know like that. No matter how many times I go back to them, even after years of not reading them.
Poetry can be difficult for me because I’m more of a concrete reader. Abstract phrases make me work harder. But that’s okay, and sometimes I just enjoy how the words trickle over my brain. 🙂
Carrie, I think I know what you mean. The only abstractions in good poetry should be maybe in the subject matter, but the language itself isn’t usually abstract, if that makes sense. So if a poem is about a particular odd feeling that really can only be captured in a poem that feeling is abstract because of that inability to pin it down in a word like sun, book, dog, etc. But the metaphors and descriptions ought to be in concrete language and images. so I guess the abstraction is the leap between the concrete language and what is being represented. i SO LOVE what you say here about enjoying “how the words trickle over” your brain! That is so beautiful and so true!!!
Thank you. And if I get lost in the meaning, I always have that to enjoy. 🙂
Poetry is like any other art form. Some of it you like, and some of it you don’t like. There are authors whose fiction novels I don’t like. I used to think I hated rap music (still not my favorite) but I have found some songs I really enjoy. I have learned you can’t eliminate a whole genre based on assumptions. Except for medicine. Blood, guts, yuk! Although…the problem solving required to find solutions is something I would have been good at.
Kate, how funny re medicine! Yes, awful stuff blood and guts but where would we all be without it?! 😉 I’ve thought of that before about the job of an internist, sort of a medical detective!
So true re poetry and other genres. If you don’t like one poem, try another and you will find one you like!
I teach poetry, sometimes write poetry, feature poetry–poetry is definitely appreciated. And I’d would err on the side of your driver in that poetry is a bit dreamy. Poetry expresses thoughts in such a different way from prose that it must originate from among the clouds.
Yes, I agree that it’s the way of expression that is different from prose more than anything else. Poetry for adults tends to use metaphors and “music” to express. Weirdly, a lot of poetry for children doesn’t use metaphors and states as directly as prose does, but uses musical tricks instead.
Good way of putting it. I hadn’t thought about the difference between a Jack Prelutsky and a Sharon Olds, but metaphors would be a definer. I will ponder this further.
I’ve always thought of poetry as kind of dreamy, Luanne. As for not mentioning your book to the driver, I would have done the same thing. I’ll admit, I’m a coward. 🙂
I figured what would be the point to mentioned it. He wouldn’t read it and he might be embarrassed or it would puncture his story a tiny bit.
I am wondering what you mean by dreamy. The conception or the expression or the subject?
I agree with Joey. But as far as poetry being dreamy, I’d like to add that I think it can be dreamy but often it’s very real. It can be a way of writing a message that is less encumbered by grammar and sentence structure. It cuts to the chase. I don’t care for poetry that is so obscure that you have to guess at the meaning, and I really don’t like reading bad poetry (the kind where the poet tries to make every line rhyme but they don’t pay attention to the patterns of emphasis and rhythm and so they force words into places where they don’t belong), Too many words or unbalanced rhythms. Does that make sense?
PS. My old favourites will stay with me forever.
I have old favorites, too, that I will never forget. I love what you write here, Anneli. Poetry really does cut to the chase, as long as the reader pays attention to what they are reading and doesn’t get frustrated by a less common way of receiving information. I know exactly the kind of “bad poetry” you mention. Unfortunately, I think that poetry that isn’t very good and tends to be just an outpouring of emotion without craft or the type you describe here or academic poetry that is too obscure turns a lot of people away from poetry.
Yes, I agree and that’s why, for years, I thought I didn’t like poetry. And yet all those old favourites stayed with me and I love them. So maybe what I “think” I don’t like about poetry is just “the badly written poetry.” It would be comparable to saying I don’t like reading novels because I once read a poorly written book. But good poetry is a real treasure. (The Musee des Beaux Arts, Ozymandias, The Road Not Taken, just to name a couple of my favourites).
Such an interesting experience. Luanne! I’ve written reams of “bad” poetry – some for a release of self-expression, many for humor’s sake. It’s personal, it’s subjective, and I believe it is, indeed, often a product of those who view the world differently than non-poetry consumers/writers. In my critique group, I am uncomfortable critiquing the occasional poem offering of another member, and after having one of my own (now rare) poems critiqued (lots of timing, poetry rules, and alternative word choices discussed by these truly kind people) I never submitted another.
Shel, humorous poetry is a whole “nother” genre and doesn’t seem to suffer from some of the problems and perceptions of “regular” poetry. I realized that as soon as I read what you wrote here.
Ah, critiquing poetry, what a pitfall. It’s a subject I have a hard time even discussing. My view of critiquing is very complicated and even nuanced I think, but it first began to be formed when I was in high school. Our English teacher had us write apoem and she gave us a grade. I got a good grade, but not an excellent one, and I was very upset. It was my lowest grade in English. Yet I wrote pretty good, concrete poems at home. Since we shared our poems in class, I knew what the other students had written. I knew the teacher wasn’t a poet. So my attitude was a little self-righteous, as I believed that she had no business grading our poems. Assigning them was good, but grading was not. After all, where was the criteria for grading? How did she know and how did we know what made anA poem and a B poem, etc?
I still stand by my opinion then, and I am not sure that grades can really be assigned to poems in a fair way. But there are good and fair ways to critique poems. Again, there has to be a common criteria used, etc.
I agree totally. There were probably a few potential gifted poets that didn’t pursue it after receiving their subjective, disappointing grade! Glad you weren’t one of them, Luanne!
Hah, thanks, Shel!
I had to come back and chime in. Like one of the other readers, I WON’T be asking for this book title because a person who can’t listen doesn’t deserve my attention. Sheesh. I think I might’ve put my iPod in my ears and gazed out the window.
LOL. It was a bit of a canned speech. I suspect he gives it to everyone who is a captive listener. It all started with a story about his one daughter who used to be a “movie star” and how his wife and daughters are geniuses and sequed into his story. Maybe he’s lonely.
Oh. And as for poetry, I think there is a dreamy quality to people who write poetry because they observe things that other’s don’t. Can hyperattentiveness be dreamy? I think so. Especially when you’re busy observing little things and forget about the big things.
Oh! I love this! What a great point!
In poetry the words dance, and we dance with the words.
With this musical and kinesthetic enhancement, the words penetrate more deeply, and become more memorable.
Oh, what a lovely description. Yes yes yes!!!! I’m tweeting this, my dear!
I feel sorry for the guy being bashed. Sometimes people feel they need to fill empty spaces with strangers and sometimes the strangers are grateful because they just get to listen. In the moment a storyteller may not even realize he or she is taking over.
If someone tells interesting stories I don’t mind listening. If this person is a friend who takes over all the time then we don’t usually remain friends, but with strangers we can’t really know what motivated them to talk a lot. (as a writer I use the experience as research and as a human I try to keep in mind that there might be a compelling yet hidden reason for a person’s need to be heard. (Of course I lose patience sometimes).
I think of the poetry of WWI a lot because I read it in high school. The poems don’t strike me as dreamy at all–lyrical and sad, but not dreamy.
An example and a link to more:
In Flanders Fields, by John McRae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/59798/twelve-great-first-world-war-poems#ixzz3dTDzqBwg
Adrienne, his story was interesting and I was glad to hear it, but there were signs he is used to telling his complete story uninterrupted and has a very high opinion of the accomplishments of himself and his family members at the expense of understanding that strangers might have accomplishments as well. I’m really glad he wrote a book about his experiences because those old “war stories” need to be documented while his generation can still do so. My father was part of a veteran’s writing group and these men were doing just that. His friend who was in the group with him made sure to capture the rest of my dad’s war stories during his last weeks. And then hospice sent a man to record my father telling his life story. I love that they do that.
Speaking of war, I completely agree about WWI poetry!!! Until we had these poems we had very few voices from the battlefield. Poetry brought us those voices and an awareness of what war does to men (and humankind).
I agree that poetry is grounded in reality. At least, the poetry that I read is based on the writer’s experiences or at least their reactions to life. That seems pretty realistic to me.
Ah, well put! That’s right, pretty darn realistic!!! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Without seeking I have always come across lines of other’s poetry to light my way and use as mantras on my journey. For me writing poetry puts words to true rhythms of life – like a lode star. Writing poetry puts me in touch with my soul.
Viv, this is so beautiful. What a wonderful, authentic relationship you have to poetry. Just lovely.
You were very gracious to an older person and that is rare these days. I love poetry and struggle to write some worth reading. I agree it is more real than real. Jill’s mention brought me here. You have a great site.
John, thanks for the kind words. I was torn between thinking I needed to speak up for myself and letting him tell his story in peace because, really, was it any trouble to me? I learned something, I got interested in something different to my own life, and it was a brief encounter in life.
Thank you so much about my blog. I enjoy yours! Poetry is so real that it can hurt–and maybe that is what drives some people away. Maybe they are afraid of their feelings?
I just wish I could write better poetry. Maybe some day if I keep practicing.
Practice definitely helps. I keep working on it!
You are right.
As you know, I’ve spent the better part of my life feeling intimidated by poetry. Finally giving it a real try helped me to see just how powerful and freeing poetry can be as well as how accessible. I’m inclined to think that most people like this gentleman might in fact be a bit intimidated by poetry’s power, but they don’t want to admit it. They’re afraid they won’t understand it or that they will understand it too well. I think you handled yourself very well and it was probably a good thing you didn’t tell him about your book 😉
Marie, you don’t know how thriling I find it that you reached out to poetry like this and really grabbed onto it. What you say here is very close to what I was trying to say above–that some people are afraid of poetry’s POWER. That’s it! It has too much control over one, I think, for the comfort of some people. I’m glad you think it was good I didn’t tell him about my book. I think it would have come off as a dig or something.
I never cared for poetry until I had experienced deep loss and grief, and then it seemed the only thing to write. It just came out, and it is still coming out, as if the grief flowing through me moved the “poet” switch to the on position. I’m still just learning to appreciate poetry. I used to think, really? If you want to say something, just say it. Now I know there are some things that simply can’t be said without imagery and metaphor.
Thanks for visiting and liking my blog. By the way, I think you should have mentioned your poetry book, but perhaps I’m just not as nice as you are.
LOL, ugh, it’s ok. He wouldn’t have read it anyway ;). Thanks for stopping by, Melanie! So interesting what you say about grief and poetry. When my cousin died years ago I hadn’t been writing poetry for quite awhile and then the floodgates opened and I wrote and wrote and wrote. My father passed away a month ago, but I am not yet at that place. I feel the opposite right now, but that will probably change and maybe poetry will become important to me in the grieving process.
I took a poetry class a few months ago, and out of the nine of us, five had recently lost a loved one. Deep calls to deep. I am sorry about your father. One day at a time … I wish you healing.
Thanks, Melanie. Today (Father’s Day) has been a hard day.
It sounds like an interesting story Luanne, but I would have found it less interesting because of his attitude. I think many people probably think creative writing in general is a dreamer’s refuge but of course it’s rooted in reality – the reality of the person writing it.
So true about the reality! His attitude did turn me off a bit, as you can probably tell, but it still was an interesting story. I can’t take anything away from what he accomplished–which was truly remarkable, especially considering what he brought to the table when he decided to become a pilot. Wow!
I didn’t know having “senior” drivers at car dealers was a thing. Your driver sounds rather self-centered. It’s too bad you didn’t mention your own book. I wonder if he thinks fiction is for dreamers, too–and/or if what he meant was that he felt he needed to learn about “practical” things and not waste time on stuff that wouldn’t give him practical knowledge. (Kind of like people who think schools should concentrate on practical subjects and vocational skills rather than spending time on music, art, poetry. . .)
I wonder how many people think about the ancient history of poetry–that throughout history and in many different cultures tales were transmitted through poetry spoken aloud? And the war poets mentioned above certainly gave readers powerful images of war.
Just as with other types of literature, music, or art, some poetry I like and some I don’t. 🙂
Really? In Arizona and in California, that is very customary. In fact, every driver I’ve ever had at dealerships in both states has been a senior. I do think he prefers practical knowledge. He also was very focused on people finding what they are best at for their lifetime work. He said that children ought to be tested in school and trained in ways that utilize their talents. I understand what he means and to a certain degree understand, but it also smacks a little of the world of THE GIVER and what is a person changes his or her mind later on, etc.
Good point about oral literature. Maybe it would be better for some people as it’s more like entertainment or even TV!
It might be customary here, too, Luanne. I’ve never had a driver. I’ve had the dealer supply a rental car.
Oh a rental is NICE!
I think the misconception that poetry is about the dream world is why so much bad poetry exists! The first time I understood what poetry should be about was reading that poem “On Firing a Salesman” by James Autry. Then I got it. Too bad I’d already taken and almost failed two poetry-writing workshops by then LOL.
Oh man, that is quite the point. So are you saying that because people think poetry is dream world stuff, these very people write bad poetry?
You did not almost fail two workshops LOL. Maybe you felt that way, but I’m sure you actually did well. The poem you mention is a wonderful one. Here’s a youtube of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqJCPZlXI_c
Oh NO, girl. I almost failed them. I had no idea what I was doing and no training. In once class, the professor pulled me aside and said, “look, just quit writing poems, and I’ll GIVE you a C.” It was that bad!
What an ass. A jerk. Was it supposed to be funny? Some people shouldn’t be teaching! Did you take it ok? You sound as if it was water off your back, but some of us would have been devastated. I’m sure a good teacher would have seen the things that were good and that could be encouraged.
He was actually a friend of mine! LOL. And I knew I sucked, so I appreciated it. He was telling me that so I wouldn’t have to humiliate myself anymore.
Why I was so terrible then is such a long story, I won’t hijack your comments with it. But it is still odd to me how terrible I was when I first tried. I am still not sure how I turned that around. I was never good with workshops and deadlines, so that was part of the problem. I wrote slowly, and have always taken months to write one poem. In workshops they wanted one a week and I just couldn’t do it!
I’m so glad he didn’t stifle your creativity (as if anyone could do that hahaha)! Interesting if you really were bad to begin with. It must have felt really cool when you figured it though.
I laughed out loud when I read to “I almost said, ‘My poetry book is on Amazon, too.'” There are all kinds of poetry, but I think the good stuff is made of the real world.
Hah, yeah, but I’m glad I kept my mouth shut. It would have felt wrong. The good stuff is definitely made of the real world. mareymercy above mentioned a good real world poem so I posted a youtube of a reading of it. Wonderful poem.
Someone in all of your lovely comments may have said all reading is rather subjective, Luanne. I used to like poems about the sea so Anne Morrow Lindbergh and some New England poets were my mainstay, then I went through a romantic phase and read Kahlil Gibran, Arthurian knights and Cervantes’ Don Quixote and finally am at a place where simple everyday children’s poems make me smile. Christina Rosetti, who describes fruits and colors or Robert Louis Stevenson sending you soaring up in a swing over the garden gate. . . Or how you felt when you heard A.A. Milne’s “When You Were Six.”
Your poems are relatable and vivid. I would hate promoting but you were so professional and calm in the video of your being interviewed on your local t.v. morning talk show. Your voice and demeanor were both attractive and likable.
Robin, you write with such a wealth of concrete detail. Every example you mention sends me off on a path of pleasant memory! I felt such an affinity with Stevenson, for instance, when I was a kid because I also was sick a lot. So today his poems are still a part of me and so is that little kid inside :)!
Thank you so much for saying kind things about my poetry and my interview. LOL, I was pretty scared to do that interview. I’m glad it turned out all right in your opinion! It terrifies me to even think of watching it!
This means a lot to me, Luanne. I wish to sound knowledgeable but feel rushed at times and then, this silly phone will redo or rewrite my words. It may sometimes give the illusion I am drinking Lol.
I bet being sick the one he wrote about “The Land of Counterpane” would have been one you related to. I am sorry you were sick a lot. The simple one about “My Shadow” always made me smile. It does go everywhere I go. I think my preschool teaching years brought back some of my fun memories. I also tend to read these still to my grandchildren. Glad to have reassured you, since we need you to be our ‘remember when we knew her as a blogger,’ Luanne. 🙂
I know what you mean about your preschool teaching years. Teaching children’s literature for all those years reinforced the love of all those wonderful old poems and stories in me!! You are so funny, Robin! You never sound rushed, but as though you have all the time in the world because you pay attention when you are commenting. I don’t even know how you manage on your phone. I cannot!!
I read poetry when I need true inspiration for novel writing. I love it and I think your shuttle driver is missing out on one of the true beauties in life:D
Dianne, I think so, too!! It’s so true that poetry is great inspiration for other genres and even other arts. It’s certainly inspired music, for example. And I agree that when I am in my good habit of reading a poem every morning, it makes me more creative for the day!!!
I bet he was a London taxi driver
Haha, oh my, now I’m imagining those rides in London cabs–and desperately trying to remember what my drivers were like when I was in London! I guess you couldn’t have your mind on your work when you catch a cab in London!
Well Luanne as we can see by your story it is different for everybody, thankfully. I find when I read poetry I am inspired to create. There is something that shifts in my mind when I read, depending on the topic but always…. I am forever changed in some small way. And there lies the magic.
Kath, I was just writing about that above. Dianne said that she uses poetry as inspiration for writing fiction, and I was thinking about how reading poetry in the morning makes me more creative for the day! I love that: “I am forever changed in some small way. And there lies the magic.” Beautiful!!!!!
I can’t explain what happens but after I read poetry my writing has more depth? If that makes sense. I guess I am inspired to find the perfect words for whatever I am working on.
And maybe it’s a different way of “seeing” too?
Luanne, I love that you are the kind of person who inspires others to give you the brief version of their lives – I am, too! It’s as if Tell me about yourself, I’m a good listener is tattooed on our foreheads. Good for all types of writing – including poetry.
Hah, we’re both cursed! But, as you say, it provides some real fodder for the writing!
I can’t say I’d see it in those terms, Luanne. It’s just something I don’t feel I have an aptitude for. Having said that, I did dabble with haiku a bit recently and I can see how it could become addictive. Do what you enjoy doing! That’s my twopennorth 🙂
Jo, working with a form like Haiku is great because writing in the form you grow used to becomes almost like playing, don’t you think? Like a game? That is such fun. Of course, any writing with constraints of some kind can be a game!
For a day or two I found myself taking a photo then muttering and counting as I walked along to the next shot. 🙂