The Book Club

While April is known primarily for spring showers and religious holidays, such as Easter or Passover, there are many other unique celebrations recognized during the month. For example, April is not only known as being National Pecan Month, but it is also National Garden Month, National Humor Month and, most importantly, National Soft Pretzel Month. However, while I’m certainly marking my calendar to keep these monthly observances in mind, the one I actually want to talk about in this issue is National Poetry Month. While I personally don’t plan on writing novels for a living, I can appreciate the precision and ingenuity that poets put into their creations and would love to write my own collection someday. But for now, I’m content with simply reading various poetry collections and sharing some of my favorites with you all in this issue.   

Whenever I discuss poetry, I absolutely must mention Sappho. Her fragments were some of the first poems I ever felt a strong connection to, and she inspired some of my own poems for a time. The majority of her fragments center around nature, the beauty of youth, Greek myths, and, of course, the love she holds dearly for women. And, true to their name, most of what the current world has on Sappho are nothing more than short phrases and lines that were salvaged. If you want a taste-tester to the world of poetry, love Greek myths or want to read the works of the person who helped us coin the term “Sapphic works,” then look no further. I personally read the collection “Sappho,” edited by Mary Barnard, though I know that Anne Carson’s collection, “If Not, Winter” is rather popular as well.  

One of my other favorite poetry collections is “Oceanic” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. In the collection, Nezhukumatahil ties together sharp images of nature with the commonalities of everyday life and compares things such as the intimacy of the bedroom to sea stars tumbling on the ocean floor. The collection is vast and unpredictable, as she brings to life C-sections and Niagara Falls and discusses topics such as chess and summer stargazing. “Oceanic” is short, but vibrantly full of life – another perfect collection to start someone’s poetic journey.   

Lastly, I want to mention a collection that I personally haven’t finished yet but still felt the utmost need to discuss. While Sappho may have sparked my poetic journey, I have long since lost it. I have wanted to bring back my passion for writing poetry, but for those that are familiar with the “Lawrence Busy,” you know sometimes hobbies get pushed aside as homework becomes priority. However, after attending a poetry reading led by some of my classmates and our very own Assistant Professor of English Charles Austin Segrest, I felt that spark start to flicker again. Segrest’s book, “Door to Remain” – at least what I’ve read so far – tackles the trials of youth as we develop and strain the relationship we have with our parents, as well as the other obstacles life throws our way as we get older. Death is a waiter and mom’s gum is black – Segrest paints life in all its wonder and harsh realities, telling a story that’s oh-so-familiar yet foreign all at once. He’s a Lawrence University poet, so of course it’s top-notch – or maybe I’m just trying to get a gold star before I take Advanced Poetry with him. Who knows? You’ll have to read “Door to Remain” to find out.  

If you do decide to read any of these collections, or maybe a different poetry collection that I failed to mention here, I sincerely hope that it sparks something within you like it did for me. Or at the very least, I hope it calls to you, pulls at your core and makes you feel something you had forgotten or never fathomed feeling. Because that, dear readers, is what makes poetry so beautifully powerful to experience.