Friday, February 10, 2006

The Attack of Valentine's Day: Love Poems

So my parents were chosen by our church to read a love poem at the end of a Valentine’s Day event being held this evening. And with my sister and I being the artsy-types, they asked for our assistance to find the perfect poem, which is supposed to end the evening.

Their first request was for me to write a poem for them. “Umm, I don’t know what to say about marriage and love and God,” was my response. “You are the ones in it (it meaning marriage) why don’t you write something.”

Their second request was to go through my collection of poetry books for the perfect Christian love poem. My collection is pretty secular. Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lord, Sharon Olds, Alice Walker…my dad asked me about Sylvia Plath…never! Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda were more the obsessive compulsive type, I tried to explain to him. More Every Breath You Take by Sting than I See God in You by India Arie. I have some Harlem Renaissance poets, but they weren’t really producing the types of poems you are looking for, I told my dad. Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, not quite the light-hearted, crazy-in-love poets.

My mom was the one really concerned (I changed this word from spazzing out, BTW) about the tone of the poem. So I read through my Nikki Giovanni books until I found one, called A Poem of Friendship, that I thought was reader-friendly, not as secular, yet “poetic” enough.

My mom didn’t like it. “Why don’t you like it?” I asked her. “It doesn’t say anything about God," she responded. "You don’t have any poems about God?” Yeah mom, but they aren’t love and marriage poems. She said she didn't want it to say anything sexual. "Well you are all married..." I started, but decided quickly to end my point.

Last night, I called my mom and she had found the perfect poem. It was a light-verse, inspirational rhyme about marriages being blessed and whatnot. I don’t really like light-verse, inspirational poetry. Matter of fact, when I was editor of Nexus Magazine, Wright State’s literary magazine, I specifically put in the admission rules “no light verse, inspirational poetry.” My mom asked me did I like it. I said, well, it’s easy on the ear, so sure. She says, “Well, I liked the one you picked out, but I wanted something that rhymed. I don’t want everybody to say, ‘what the heck is she talking about!’” Yeah, I can understand how non-rhyming poetry can evoke that kind of response, I told my mom.

Things I learned:

All the poets I like are heathens and more secular than Sug Avery.

None of the poets I like have ever been happy and in love for long periods of time…

…unless they had orgasms that lasted all night.

My parents are ultra-conservative.

Or maybe I have the wrong idea of what love should sound like in a poem.

Or maybe I am just a poetry snob.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

you are not a poetry snob. You just have educated tastes. Light verse should not be called poetry because it doesn't last. The light verse of 1894 died in 1896. Real poetry has staying power.Except for "Footprints". We will never be rid of that poem.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous belladawn said...

i was actually a lil comfortable w/mom & dads request as well!? the first poem she read me made want 2 repent! i told her 2 read 1 corinathians 13! i think the 1 they picked is cute 4 them!

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