Reading The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker and suddenly I adore poetry.

It’s for a book club. The Radicals book club, I believe it’s called. I don’t know why it’s called that, except to possibly distinguish it from the other non-Radicals book club that the friend who invited me to join also has. (Wow. Was something dangling in that sentence or is it just me? OK. Honestly. Something’s really dangling in that sentence, because I’m certainly not. Dangling, that is. Sheesh. Never mind.)

June and The Anthologist will be my first time in a book club, and I don’t know that much about it. Will I be expected to have brilliant insights because I have an English degree? Can I just sit and listen my first time? Will I have to remember everything I learned about Wordsworth? Because I really wasn’t that good at Wordsworth. Ezra Pound and H.D. were more my style. There’s so much going on in those poems that even with my weak poetry skills I can find the symbolism.

But as I’m reading the book, I’m finding that I’m enjoying it so much that I don’t care any more. I don’t think it will matter because I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy talking about it. He’s just so funny. Paul, that is. Nicholson Baker could be funny as well. I’m sure he must be since his character has a decent sense of humor. I’ve just never met him, of course, and by now I feel like I’ve met Paul. He’s also genuine. But I like when he’s trying too hard and comes across as a teensy bit annoying. He catches himself and backpedals a little, so it makes him charming.

And all the poems he’s talking about? Naturally, I have to go find them and read them. (Sinead O’Connor singing “She Moved Through the Fair” not so much. Doesn’t everybody know that? Ha!) And that’s not such a bad thing.

Side note:  One of the reviews on Amazon says this is a very bad, naughty book because it’s not a good way to learn poetry. It made me laugh so hard. I certainly would have liked to have had this book in all of my poetry classes. Scansions and what not would have been so much simpler.

So my new favorite thing? Poem Hunter. Any reference will find the poem you’re looking for and bring it to you. Printer-friendly versions and lists of favorites and daily emails, oh my! Yet another thing I can spend part of my morning doing. Reading poetry! But from what I understand so far of The Anthologist, this is a very good thing.

Although it’s going to take me forever to get through this 250 page book if I continue on this way.


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