"How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry"

I had an opportunity to hear Ed Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation, speak and read a few of his poems earlier this week. It was a real treat.

After the show, I bought one of his books, “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry.” I’ve only the read the first chapter so far, but I would already highly recommend this book to anyone interested in poetry. Below is a sample:

“Read these poems to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read them while you’re alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone else sleeps next to you. Read them when you’re wide awake in the early morning, fully alert. Say them over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of the culture–the constant buzzing noise that surrounds us–has momentarily stopped.”

I know the title sounds like a textbook, and to some degree it is. Hirsch does attempt to clear away some of the mystery of reading poetry. But it’s the second half of the title that makes all the difference to me. He is never once devoid of the love for his craft. His love for poetry is contagious. Like I said, I’ve only read the first chapter, but it’s already pretty clear the case Ed Hirsch is making. If you don’t love the poetry, if it doesn’t move your spirit, then your haven’t yet read poetry. Love and understanding are mutual. What a wonderful book. You will gain insight about poetry from a man who is passionate about his craft. One of the best books I’ve read recently.