Sat 20 Aug 2005
In order to decide whom my favorite poet is, I first had to ask myself what draws me to poetry in general. For me, poetry is about the mystery, the details, and the unexplained. The best poems are ones that have me reading and re-reading, making new connections and drawing more meaning each time. I am always awed by the realization that every word and even syllable in a poem has been meaningfully, deliberately chosen. Whether bringing clarity or ambiguity to the poem, it is the details that draw me in.
Though undoubtedly, all good poets invest their works with this kind of thought, the poems of Emily Dickinson stand out in my mind as being exceptionally meaningful. Her poem “Because I could not stop for Death,” for example, reads as an almost pleasant encounter between the speaker, and death. A second or third reading gleans more complexities: though death “knew know haste,” a setting sun suggests time is nearing an end, a deteriorating house could parallel an aging body. It is these details that reveal the poem for what it is, an exploration of the paradoxical relationship between death and immortality. And it is this richness of thought that intrigues me as a reader.