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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Poetry workshop: Love poems - Annie Finch

Detail of Cupid from Galatea by Raphael. Photograph: Araldo de Luca/Corbis
It is a hard thing to express strong emotion sincerely and openly without being self-indulgent. This is the crucial task that has kept love poetry in business over the centuries. I'm impressed and moved by the ways many of the poems submitted for this workshop rise to the challenge. Here are some of my favourites. Each of them uses at least one of the tools I mentioned in the workshop assignment – imagery, form, or tone – in an exemplary way.

Joseph's Love Poem #2 is in a form called the "list poem". It makes its point through a steady and eloquent accretion of concrete observation and detail:

Love Poem # 2
by Joseph

with your "certified genius IQ"
with your dark brown skin
with your reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X at 11
with your blue-eyed poet boyfriend
with your laugh that's too loud
with your silence that goes on for 10 blocks
with your mean mouth and stony looks
with your apartment over the diner across from the shelter
with your curtains and windows shut
with your collection of clocks
with your kitchen without food
with your North Philly childhood
with your 2 murdered brothers
with your scholarship to boarding school
with your dignified walk and deliberate talk
with your discussing Dr Seuss books in therapy
with your 5 hour trance on the dance floor
with your coldness and sincerity
with your fantasies of marriage
with your epileptic seizures
with your work clothes press
with your head shaved bad
with your gap-toothed smile
with your buttocks scarred from falling on glass
with your lips the most beautiful in this city
with your nipples bruised
with your consoling kiss
with your grace in bed
with your love clearly spoken
with the infection that waits in your blood.


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