unfinished read #1
A poetry book, like a dictionary, is a book I never finish reading. Unlike dictionaries I will voraciously read all the words in a poetry book cover-to-cover upon first discovering them. Obviously this is after having removed my stickly little digits from the tea mug. Both are reference books, pulled from the shelf again and again.
The dictionary gets pulled when I’m unsure of a word’s meaning, range of meanings, origins, relationship to other words. Assured of discovery, my question promptly answered. Inevitably a rewarding experience, how can anyone fail to fall in love with dictionaries? I’m very loyal to my one paper dictionary, it cannot be replaced. The Collin’s Concise (1983) was a present from an elder brother. When I look at its faded binding I see my 21 year old brother standing at the top of Park Street outside Georges with a white plastic bag in his hand held out towards me saying
“you’re leaving home? You’ll need your own dictionary“.
A very different experience from pulling one of the several poetry books from the shelf, floor, table, chair, cooker, mantle, washing-machine. The favoured books are scattered around the Wendy House where they afford the opportunity of unpremeditated rediscovery in a moment of undirected reading. Picking up a book, flicking through the pages to a title that catches some thought and reading that poem. One book purchased in a tizzy in 1989 insists on falling open to specific pages, poems I found powerful in the early 1990s. I have to fight against its insistence on taking me to specific emotional places.
Poetry book use is not all so sporadic. There are specific places I’ll go when I’m happy, because I’m sad, or I want to find the words that describe what it is that I’m feeling because I just don’t know. They are often there, wrapped in the ambiguities and soothing rythms, but one can never be sure of Dictionary-like success.
With that thought I’ll return to the vacuuming