Saturday, April 21, 2018

S is for Edna St. Vincent Millay: Sincere and Direct

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 600 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.

When I first encountered the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, I dismissed it without reading much of it. Because it was direct, sincere, and easy to understand, I thought it simplistic and less meaningful than the complex and cynical work I admired at the time. 

I probably inherited a bit of this attitude from the literary scene. She wasn't one of the poets people mentioned as an influence, and some poets were downright dismissive of her work. I can remember one conversation when someone called her work "greeting card drivel."

She had once been so popular and admired a poet, but by the time I was studying poetry, no one was talking about her work.

But more recently, her poems have come across my radar from time to time and I found them beautiful and moving. I am older now, which may have something to do with it, and my views have changed about those complex and cynical works I once admired. A lot of it seems contrived and pretentious to me, and sincerity and honesty is exactly what I'm looking for. She feels like a breath of fresh air to me in that way.

She's better technically than I ever gave her credit for, too. Her formal sonnets have all the right beats and rhyme schemes, yet feel as fresh and natural as free verse. That's quite a feat!

I feel I owe her an apology for judging her when I was younger based on reputation alone instead of reading for myself. Luckily, it's never too late to read her work and admire it.

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