Saturday, April 2, 2011

"The Road Not Taken": Celebrate National Poetry Month This April!

With April being National Poetry Month, it seemed a great time to talk poetry, since it is an area of the library that most patrons rarely visit. My favorite poem is “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, published in 1916. I fell in love with it in my 6th grade English class (not in 1916!), where each student had to pick a poem to read in front of the class and explain what we thought it meant. I can’t recall exactly what I said, but I do remember being comfortable performing the poem to a roomful of people. I also doubt I memorized it…and I probably spoke entirely too loud…I’m almost positive I made it theatrical, to the point of sending me right into detention. Now looking back, it is quite funny how my life has become like that poem (although just for the record, no job has detention, they either put you on suspension or just say “You’re fired.”)

Here I am “ages and ages hence” on something called the Internet, telling you weekly stories that the path I have taken in life has been filled with the ups and downs of career confusion and job dysfunction, regardless of my ambition, talent, and passion. Being an individualist and artist, I probably chose the road “less traveled by” (no wonder the Los Angeles traffic is so bad – we are all on the same road!) I’m still deciding whether it “has made all the difference” (I’m only in my thirties, people, I hope my life isn’t over yet!) Obviously, the poem speaks to the idea of looking at one’s life with regret or satisfaction, which I think everybody does at some point, but that is a whole other blog post. At the end of the day, I am just thankful to Frost and the millions of talented poets out there, who in a few choice words are able to develop a story with heartfelt emotion and numerous interpretations, to inspire generations of people for decades.

Below is Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” in its entirety, along with some poetry recommendations that you can find at your local library…

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

- “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Topics to search at your library: poetry, poets, how to write poetry, tons of books in the 811 section!

1. Phenomenal woman: four poems celebrating women / Maya Angelou. 811.54 ANGELOU
2. The poetry of Maya Angelou / Maya Angelou. 811.54 ANGELOU
3. Collected poems, 1922-1938 / E.E. Cummings. 811.52 CUMMINGS
4. American poetry. The twentieth century. 811.508 AMERICAN
5. Beauty is convulsive: the passion of Frida Kahlo / Carole Maso. 811.54 MASO
6. The Penelopeia / Jane Rawlings; illustrations by Heather Hurst 811.6 RAWLINGS
7. American poetry: the nineteenth century. 811.308 AMERICAN
8. The collected poems of Langston Hughes / Arnold Rampersad, editor; David Roessel, associate editor. 811.52 HUGHES
9. The collected tales and poems of Edgar Allan Poe. 818.309 POE
10. The unabridged Edgar Allan Poe / illustrated by Suzanne Clee. 813.3 POE
11. The poetry of Robert Frost / edited by Edward Connery Lathem. 811 FROST
12. Selected poems / Emily Dickinson. 811.4 DICKINSON
13. The Brownings, letters and poetry. Selected and with an introd. by Christopher Ricks. Illus. by Barnett I. Plotkin. 821 BROWNING
14. Sonnets from the Portuguese / Elizabeth Barrett Browning; illustrations by Fred A. Mayer. 821 BROWNING
15. Eight American poets: Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, James Merrill : an anthology / edited by Joel Conarroe. 811.508 EIGHT
16. The works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge / with an introduction by Martin Corner, and bibliography. 821 COLERIDGE
17. British poetry and prose. 820.8 LIEDER v.1
18. The Faber book of 20th century women's poetry / edited by Fleur Adcock. 821.91 FABER
19. Suzy Zeus gets organized / Maggie Robbins. 811.6 ROBBINS
20. Urban nature: poems about wildlife in the city / edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. 811.5408 URBAN
21. A Heckuva job : more of the Bush administration in rhyme / Calvin Trillin. 811.54 TRILLIN
22. Poetry after 9/11: an anthology of New York poets811.60358 POETRY
23. The discovery of poetry: a field guide to reading and writing poems / Frances Mayes. 808.1 MAYES
24. The Norton anthology of modern poetry, edited by Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair. 821.08 ELLMAN
25. The selected poems of Nikki Giovanni. 811.54 GIOVANNI
26. The language of life: a festival of poets / Bill Moyers811.5409 MOYERS
27. The other Mozart: poems by / Sharon Chmielarz. 811.54 CHMIELARZ
28. The healing power of creative mourning: poems / by Jan Yager...[et al.] 808.81 HEALING
29. Dylan Thomas [sound recording] CD BOOK 821.912 THOMAS
30. The radiation sonnets: for my love, in sickness and in health / by Jane Yolen 811.54 YOLEN
31. Ancient acid flashes back: poems / Adrian C. Louis. 811.54 LOUIS
32. Black out loud; an anthology of modern poems by Black Americans. Drawings by Alvin Hollingsworth 811.08 ADOFF
33. Lights, camera, poetry! : American movie poems the first hundred years / edited by Jason Shinder. 811 LIGHTS
34. All the rage / William Logan. 811.509 LOGAN