I am not usually super into poetry, but tonight in a bookstore basement a bestselling gay man with his own Wikipedia page and an expensive haircut suggested I start trying. I’m not sure how that’s going to go, but in honor of his idea I am sharing my top five poems (of the moment) on the internet. Don’t spend them all in one place.
The Constant of the Universe by Andy Weaver. Ok so maybe I just read this now, but it has just skyrocketed to the position of My Favorite Love Poem. It is long but it is worth it. Also he quotes Ani.
To Lou-Andreas Salome by Rainer Maria Rilke. This was my former favorite love poem. I still think it is a huge fucking deal; I have reconciled it with the above poem by re-categorizing it as something else. It is not a love poem, it is… a poem about someone he loved. It’s weird, because this one is obviously very specific, it’s written to one person in particular, but every major relationship I’ve ever had in my life I’ve felt like this poem describes it. Also be careful to get a good translation, because some of them make Rilke sound dumb and he is not dumb.
Thanks by W.S. Merwin. My best friend showed me this in high school and it made me go a little crazy, like I started printing it out and taping it everywhere and stitching it to stuff. I cannot explain what it is about. But I cannot imagine that anyone could read it without being better off afterwards.
A Ritual To Read To Each Other by William Stafford. As I said, I am not usually super into poetry. But this is, I think, a perfect example of why the genre needs to exist. I know exactly what Stafford is saying here, and I know it’s terribly important, but I don’t know how to put it any more concisely. I feel like it’s possible that the plainest and most truthful way to put this sentiment really is in these five stanzas. Do you know what I mean?
First Writing Since by Suheir Hammad. I first found this in a hippie-dippy pinko commie newsletter that my Quaker mom and I get; regardless of its Trader-Joe’s-organic-recycled-paper silly beginnings, it is really beautiful and important. It’s another one of those things like the Rilke poem, where I know it’s very specific in intent – this one is about 9/11 – but I end up thinking of it all the time, in every situation, and I feel like it contains so much more. Also it is one of the only things I’ve read about 9/11 that feels like it was done right. It is worth reading for anyone who lived through it.