As part of this years National Poetry Month celebration, the Academy of American Poets offers a list of 30 Ways to Celebrate that includes a wide range of options for exploring poetry. Of the many possibilities, the one that caught my eye was “Start a commonplace book,” which the site explains:
Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called commonplace books.What a challenge! Which poems to choose? How to narrow the options? I dont have space to share them all, so Ill share just one: “This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams. It may not seem like a likely choice for me. I spend much of my time exploring symbolic poetry, full of mythological allusions and deep, complex imagery. “This Is Just to Say” is such a straightforward, little poem—but thats why I have chosen it.
“This Is Just to Say” is a poem that is approachable. With no real effort, I can spout off the words from memory, and its a poem that anyone can understand. No special degrees in literature are necessary. Ive used it successfully as a model poem for students to parody and I listen happily to the Prairie Home Companion “Guy Noir” parody of the poem.
Yet beneath that simplicity is the sharp wit and careful pen of a great poet. The poems line breaks and precise wording provide such a sharp image and message. The plums of the poem are like all poetry for me, a guilty pleasure that I indulge in against all the nagging demands of my daily life. Tonight, I have lesson plans to edit, laundry to wash, and an essay to write; but instead I found myself indulging in the poems I love—“Forgive me / they were delicious.”