We’ve been learning a lot about poetry lately south of the Fraser River. This week Poet Heidi Greco has been offering her insights on process and form. Here is just one of her many tips on reading a poem. If you’re anything like me and sometimes have no clue what it’s all about, this might help…
My friend Bernie is the person who taught me the best way to eat a mango: sitting in a stream, naked. While we don’t always have access to a warm, tropical stream – or the opportunity to get naked in one – his lesson applies to more than justmangoes.
Reading a poem can be as juicy and delicious (and sometimes as messy) as eating a mango.
First reading sees you peeling back the skin, admiring the flesh, taking in the scent of the fruit. Then, it’s bite after scrumptious bite, each one providing a new rush of flavour. The further you poke your face into it, the messier it gets, all those juices dribbling down your chin and between your fingers. And there at the middle, that nugget of almond-shaped pit, worth scraping clean between your teeth.
But, look out. It won’t be long before you find your tongue worrying some thread of mango string, caught between your teeth– a little something to take you back to the experience of enjoying the fruit.
Eating a mango is a whole lot like reading a poem. Both can leave you with something to think about later on. But the bits left behind by a poem are so much less annoying than strings caught between your teeth. Besides, with a poem, you don’t need a stream to wash up in afterwards.