Monday, August 5, 2019

A Glimpse of Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey, kind of like Willa Cather, is one of those authors I've been meaning to get to. There are always so many things to read that sometimes it just takes a while to get to authors you feel like you ought to have read years ago.

As I've been referencing lately the difficulty with having time to sit down and read a book, now seems a great time to bring up poetry. I still haven't read any Abbey books, but now I've read some of his poetry. Poetry is fantastic for the modern reader. Only have two minutes? Perfect; that's enough time for one poem. Have ten? A few poems, then. An hour or two? Hey, you just might make it through the whole volume. You're still getting quality content, just in a quicker-to-read format.

Now, as far as Abbey's poetry, Earth Apples was published posthumously. In his introduction, David Petersen discusses the fact that Abbey didn't consider them great works and didn't try to make them great works--and also that they don't need to be in order to have relevance. My own experience reading them is evidence of that: I haven't, as I've mentioned, read any of Abbey's books yet, but from reading these poems, I have a sense of what type of writer he was. The gist of his style and focus, as it were. I get the idea that I am going to be of two minds about his writing when I finally get to his books. Some of this I much enjoyed, some just didn't resonate with me, and some took the artistic approach that I prefer to leave unexplored.

From the writer's or research perspective, this book is quite fascinating. I don't write poetry, but I do sometimes free write in verse (that's why my latest book does contain some verse). I started doing that in middle school. Then I stopped because I saw that it wasn't poetry and it wasn't good and therefore I thought that it was bad. But I've started it up again more recently because sometimes that's just the way the words want to hit the page. There are many types of writing. And sometimes the writing that you need to do in order to make other, more planned, more perfected writing is simply a collection of thoughts in verse.

Have you ever read the Brontes' poetry? They become known as novelists. Read their poetry and you'll see why. They were not Keats. And yet they're not bad reads and there are some that are quite good and reading them gives this sense of who they each were as writers. You can see a person's style and focus based on how they put together verse.

So let's all read more poetry, shall we? I have a book of John Donne waiting for me and I am still wanting to pick up more Lang Leav one of these days.

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