This is a good idea, and spurred me to make this post, which I’ve had in mind for ages. (And April was National Poetry Month; who knew?)
It’s tough to pick just one poem by my favourite contemporary poet AE Stallings, so I’ll go with the first of hers that I read, way back when it was featured on Poetry Daily:
The Man Who Wouldn’t Plant Willow Trees
Willows are messy trees. Hair in their eyes,
they weep like women after too much wine
and not enough love. They litter a lawn with leaves
Like the butts of regrets smoked down to the filter.
They are always out of kilter. Thirsty as drunks,
They’ll sink into a sewer with their roots.
They have no pride. There’s never enough sorrow.
A breeze threatens and they shake with sobs.
Willows are slobs, and must be cleaned up after.
They’ll bust up pipes just looking for a drink.
Their fingers tremble, but make wicked switches.
They claim they are sorry, but they whisper it.
Ms Stallings’ homepage gives links to another two dozen or so poems; I particularly liked this and this and this, but go and read them all, even if you think you don’t like poetry. She has a wonderful, distinctive voice, erudite, whimsical and powerful all at once, and manages the delicate balance between profound and trite with enormous skill. There’s an interview in the Cortland Review here, where you can hear Stallings reading a couple of her own poems (if you can put up with the wretched Real Audio format). The essay on formal verse mentioned in that interview is well worth reading and can be found here at the Alsop Review, which also hosts Stallings’ excellent close reading of The Darkling Thrush. In addition, Stallings moderates a forum called Musing on Mastery at Able Muse‘s Eratosphere and so is one of the few working poets with whom you can actually “talk shop”, in a sense. Finally, her first (and, sadly, so far only) book, Archaic Smile, is available from the publisher (U of Evansville Press), Amazon.com and all good book stores. I cannot recommend it too highly.
Update: below the fold, a list of blogs featuring poems for Poem On Your Blog Day. Not exhaustive by any means, just the ones I found tracking back to Ronn’s entry or with a couple of quick searches on Google, Technorati or Bloglines. If I missed your entry and you want on the list, email me.