Richard Blanco joins Jim and Margery on Boston Public Radio to celebrate Poetry Month with his favorite “Ars Poetica” poems.
“Ars Poetica is in some way shape or form a poem about the art of poetry, it can take on many different meanings… The mystery of the process is a subject to explore.”
Blanco shared thoughts on the creative process, “Write as though nobody will read it,” and emphasized the importance of language to cultivate meaning in our lives.
Follow along with the poems listed below as they are read and discussed.
I’m curled into a ball
like a dog
that is cold.
Who will tell me
why I was born,
why this monstrosity
The telephone rings. I have to give
a poetry reading.
A hundred people, a hundred pairs of eyes.
They look, they wait.
I know for what.
I am supposed to tell them
why they were born,
why there is
this monstrosity called life.
I’m working on a poem that’s so true, I can’t show it to anyone.
I could never show it to anyone.
Because it says exactly what I think, and what I think scares me.
Sometimes it pleases me.
Usually it brings misery.
And this poem says exactly what I think.
What I think of myself, what I think of my friends, what I think about my lover.
Parts of it might please them, some of it might scare them.
Some of it might bring misery.
And I don’t want to hurt them, I don’t want to hurt them.
I don’t want to hurt anybody.
I want everyone to love me.
Still, I keep working on it.
Why do I keep working on it?
Nobody will ever see it.
Nobody will ever see it.
I keep working on it even though I can never show it to anybody.
I keep working on it even though someone might get hurt.
You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.
This episode of “Village Voice” first aired on Boston Public Radio on April 24th, 2023.