Saturday, March 12, 2011

After the Ark by Luke Johnson, Poems

A man I used to know, Luke Johnson, recently published his first book of poetry, After the Ark, with NYQ Press. I'm a bit biased toward the book, of course, since I knew Luke a few years ago, but I found a lot to love about the poems in this book and the arc of the poems as a whole. Luke plays with formal poetry (often breaking the rules) and the poems in the book create an elegy to his mother.

On Luke's blog, you can find links to several of the poems which appeared in journals with an online component. My personal favorite of the ones available online might be "Laundromat," but ask me on a different day and my answer could change. This one, however, I've printed and taped in my kitchen, along with other favorite poems (including poems by Ted Kooser, Natasha Tretheway, Ander Monson, Sharon Olds, and Philip Levine) so I see them when I'm cooking or baking.

My friend Annie, from Simple Gifts, and I talk about poetry fairly often--what we've read, what we like about particular poems or collections, what we're experimenting with, the poets or collections we currently love. One of the things we talk about is that conversations about poetry rarely happen and that a lot of people can't name contemporary poets. This makes me a little sad and so I asked a non-writer friend why he felt uncomfortable talking about poetry, even when he's read it (which he did willingly enough in a book club, but might not do on his own). He said he didn't know where to start with a book of poems -- that whenever he'd talked about poetry in the past he'd talked about individual poems, rather than a collection.

So this is my remedy to some of that. I'm flexitarian writer, after all, and it only seems appropriate to talk about books from time to time -- or at the very least, poems in the public domain, such as those from Poetry Daily. I hope you'll join me in talking about books -- and about poetry.

Check out the Facebook page for After the Ark.

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