Friday, October 11, 2013


A Christmas holiday has not gone by in recent years without my parents giving me the current edition of Best American Poetry.  Anthologies serve a wonderful purpose of gathering a variety of poems by different poets and bundling them together into one convenient package.  

A drawback, however, is that I don’t always share the same taste in poetry as the editor of the anthology.  It is not uncommon for me to dig into an anthology with enthusiasm, only to find my mind quickly wandering and skipping poems, and then me snapping the book shut dissatisfied.

That is why when attending the Palm Beach Poetry Festival several years ago, one of the ideas shared during a poetry workshop resonated with me:  create your own.  Not an anthology that you compile and publish, but one more akin to your own personal poetry journal. 

The first step is simply to purchase a blank journal.  

Next, write down your favorite poems in the journal. The act of copying each poem by hand creates a special focus that will enhance your experience of the poem, as well as what you learn from it to enrich your own writing, not to mention that putting pen to paper is fast becoming a lost art in this era of technological advancement. 

The first poem that appears in my poetry anthology is a poem by Carolyn Forche titled, The Colonel.    This powerful poem was part of a workshop I attended in the late 1990s, and one I will never forget, nor tire of reading.  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/180106

The last step?  Find a favorite quiet spot on those stressful days, grab your one-of-a kind anthology, and lose yourself in the poetry that makes your heart sing.  


Anonymous said...

Great idea, Catherine. I just went and read The Colonel for the first time. Wow. It made me think of the Glanton Gang. Thanks for sharing.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Cool idea.

Laura Grace Weldon said...

What a wonderful idea. I've kept Word doc of poems too powerful to let go. But you're right, the process of writing them down by hand more firmly presses the poem in one's consciousness.

Catherine Criswell said...

Thanks all.


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau