Why are people so afraid of poetry?
That’s a question that’s been plaguing poet Amy Nawrocki, of Hamden. Now, with her new collection, Lune de Miel, being released in August, she talks about what people are missing when they dismiss poetry out of hand.
Lune de Miel,which means “honeymoon” in French, has been released to critical acclaim.
As Joseph Conlin, editor of the SNReview writes, “From the first stanza of the first poem in this amazing collection, you know Amy Nawrocki is ready to transport you through the magic of her poems to some exotic, crazy, and unimaginable place, a lover’s Paris. Her descriptions of Parisian paintings and monuments blend with the story of two lovers honeymooning in the City of Light to create a sensuous tapestry that draws you in like the great paintings by Gauguin, Chagall, and Monet she writes about. These poems are lush and human.John Guzlowski, author of Lightning and Ashes and The Third Winter of War: Buchenwald. With the poems in Lune de Miel, Amy Nawrocki walks us through a Paris of now and yore, opening our eyes, anew, to a city and ourselves. They create succulent
moments found sitting in a café to the tensions of love and hurt found tucked behind the brush strokes of the city’s immortal guests. With each word, line,and stanza, a reader swears that he again tastes the moon’s honey so needed to sweeten life’s bitters.”
Nawrocki, who grew up in Newtown, earned a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an master of fine arts from the University of Arkansas. Her poetry has won numerous awards, and her chapbook, Potato Eaters, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her work has been featured in SNReview, Gastronomica, The Newtowner, Verdad Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and Connecticut Food and Wine. She is also the author of Nomad’s End, published in 2010 by Finishing Line Pres, and two works of non-fiction, co-authored with Eric D. Lehman: A History of Connecticut Wine: Vineyard in Your Backyard and A History of Connecticut Food.
She lives in Hamden with her husband and their two cats.
Here’s what she has to say in defense of poetry:
Some thoughts on Poetry
I write poetry because I love language. I love how ideas spring from the simplest entity. For me, there’s poetry everywhere, and my job is just to harness it for a moment, before, like a tuft of dandelion seedlings blown off the stem, it disperses into the ether. Of course I want others to equally relish the small moments and the large abstractions, and hopefully, my poems will draw out some connection, even if it’s only curiosity rather than understanding.
I recently spoke about my poetry on Practical Talk Time, a cable broadcast out of Danbury, CT. I was promoting my latest collection Lune de Miel and fulfilling a promise to the host Sandy Wroebel, who picked up my first book Potato Eaters about a year ago. As we were chatting before the show, she mentioned that she “doesn’t really like poetry” a lasting influence from her school days when poetry was introduced as “difficult” and “out there.” Luckily, she was drawn to a poem titled “Babka” and we talked about the poem’s subject, baking bread, which lead to a connection about our mothers, to our Polish heritage, to the meaning of memory.
It surprises me how long-lasting these early perceptions can be, shaping the way adults view poetry. I forget sometimes that not everyone is agog by word combinations or by trains cooing in the far distance, the chatter of feet dancing on a parquet floor, a leaf’s fossil left on the sidewalk after the rain. People (older generations usually) are still surprised, and maybe a little put off, by poetry that doesn’t rhyme, and I know that most readers are not going to seek poetry out casually, which is too bad. I’m still a little heartbroken when a family member or friend reads my poem and tells me, “I don’t really get it.”
On the one hand, such comments make me appreciate teaching poetry. Granted, most of my students have broader perspective (these are college students), and most have open minds, but there always seems to be the prevailing idea the poetry will be “difficult,” that poets are “too obtuse” and “beyond” them. On the other hand, I wish it didn’t take a semester to open readers’ eyes to a poem’s unfolding petals or to point them toward Archibald MacLeish’s notion that “a poem should not mean/ But be,” which I both agree and disagree with. A poem should both captivate intellectually but it can, and should, just exist as a thing of beauty. Sometimes the “meaning” is less important than the physical and emotional experience of living the poem.
In Lune de Miel, I tried to ground the poems in place and experience. I want the reader to be transported to Paris, to see, hear, and taste the city. But it’s not essential for me as the writer that readers absolutely comprehend every poem. Like the painters that I link to in the collection, an impression is what I want: to invite them to step into “amethyst pools, blur into/ the mirror of clouds reflected on cobalt” . . . where “all is reflection.” I hope readers will take many things from the poems, a desire to travel, to sample escargot, to fall in love. If one reader decides to live with open eyes and eager ears once the book is closed and relegated to the shelf, I will be very happy indeed.
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