Sunday, April 22, 2007

Voting on poems

Jonathan Mayhew and I exchanged an email or two about how we pick the poems for the Daily Poem Project. Here's my last note in the exchange:

My procedure is ... read the poems, read the poems, read the poems. :-)

More seriously, my procedure is to read each poem hoping to be blown away. If anything gets in the way of that, then I put the poem aside. Last year, this procedure usually led me to pick a poem quickly, or choose between two very quickly. This year, I'm trying to give them more time; in fact, I'm trying to see how the things that irritate me might actually be the things that are worth looking at more closely (à la the "I can see" motif in Christian Wiman's "The River" in week one).

So I'm shifting my focus a bit to how irritation can be a good thing, a reaction that tells you what to look at just as much as a "wow" does.


Glenn Ingersoll said...

My favorite poems frequently have a spot or two that will irritate me.

Perhaps for that reason I wasn't offended when another poet told me my poems would often contain an element that irritated him.

Irritation! Makes your scratch.

Andrew Shields said...

Irritation is one reason to keep coming back to a poem. There are others, of course, but irritation can be incredibly productive, especially if it is a moment of irritation in a poem one is otherwise carried away by.