Other than a few poems here and there (including the poetry in the last book I read) and reading Shel Silverstein with my kids, I haven’t really read poetry since my early 20’s. I used to enjoy Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost…but that was pretty much it. Other than those authors, poetry always kind of seemed…flowery…to me. Inaccessible. For other people, but not for me.
Enter the Book Riot 2019 Read Harder Challenge, where one of the tasks is to read a collection of poetry published since 2014. I stared at that part of the list and thought, ‘Okay, guess I’m reading some poetry this year!’
When I visited the library with my list of available books, I originally meant to check out The Sobbing School by Joshua Bennett, but someone else appeared to have grabbed that first, so instead, I grabbed the other book from the list that they stocked, Chasers of the Light: Poems From the Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson (Tarcher Perigee, 2014) and added it to my stack. It’s a small, smooth book that fit nicely with my other books, and I had to say, I was looking forward to reading it. I’ve really been enjoying reading outside my usual genres this year, and it felt good to be trying something I hadn’t attempted to read in a long time.
Gregson begins the book with the story of coming across a typewriter in a secondhand store, typing a poem on it with one of the blank sheets torn from a book he was buying, and the typewriter then followed him home. The majority of the poetry in this book appears to be typed on torn-out pages, receipts, and other scraps; others are set against Gregson’s own photography, and still others emerge from pages where he has blacked out the rest of the text (these were really neat, and this would make a fabulous exercise for any writing teacher, if they could bring themselves to destroy a book in order to do it!). Aesthetically speaking, this is a really pleasant book.
The poetry, I thought, was lovely. Several made me stop and think; I often had to reread because I found the lines beautiful and wanted to let the words resonate. One in particular stopped me short, the imagery stunning: ‘I want to leave goosebumps/everywhere I have not yet/ kissed and spend the night/ trying to read them/ like Braille.’
I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING. *fans self*
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this quite as much as I did. I have a BAZILLION things on my TBR list, and I don’t know that I’ll be running to the poetry section every trip to the library, but…maybe once in a while, I’ll check it out. Because…I did enjoy this. Although I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more when I don’t have my daughter chattering in my ear as I’m trying to read. 😉
If you’re interested in knowing more about what kind of poetry is in this book, Tyler Knott Gregson has a Pinterest board dedicated to poems from this series. Check it out and see if this is a style you might enjoy reading.