I loved this book so much I'm having trouble writing anything about it. It was one of those lucky secondhand finds, I'd never heard of it and had no idea who Gregory Orr was. Published in 2002, it looked pristine, unread, but it's thoroughly battered now, creased and scribbled in and mine. It's all about how poetry helps us live.
I started reading poetry a little over four and a half years ago, late in life and at a time when things were not going all that well. I mean all the sudden I was reading Keats on a freezing New England bathroom floor at 3am by the light of one of those smelly candles praying the baby (the first one) wouldn't wake up. This book is very much about that kind of thing and it was lovely to read, and he starts in the introduction talking about music and about how songs also save us over and over again and how real it is so I knew right away I'd found friend.
He writes about how we collect our favorite poems and lines, treasure them, and fashion them into something that helps us navigate our lives. And he really is at this point just talking about poetry but to me it's so much more too- songs of course, images we love, and also a certain type of blog post, the ones we write ourselves trying to capture and make sense of our own experiences, and the ones we find by those miraculously kindred souls who become our favorite bloggers because they express for us what we might not be able to say for ourselves, or because they share stories from their lives that somehow echo ours even if they live a world away. And play the perfect song to go along.
The isn't an anthology really but Orr includes a lot of poems and of those that were new to me I think this is my favorite.
Feelings Wakened by a Mirror by Po Chu-i
My beautiful one gave it to me when we parted,
but I leave the mirror stored in its box.
Since her flowering face left my sight,
autumn waters have no more lotus blooms.
For years I've never opened the box;
red dust coats the mirror's green bronze.
This morning I took it out and wiped it off,
peered into it at my haggard face,
and, done peering, went on to ponder sadly
the pair of twined dragons carved on its back.