The first book of poems I ever actually bought was the Modern Library edition of the Collected Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. During the same wild spending spree I also bought, The Interpretation of Dreams, by Freud. Within the same general time frame I went to the local (Oceanside, California) library and checked out a book entitled something like, The Gospel of Matthew, more or less.
Poe won!!! I read and re-read those poems. I was somewhere along the high school journey but the lyric was something I could take into my introverted (and shy) self, enjoy, and not tell anyone else. I couldn’t tell anyone else!! I was a male, in high school, a shy distance runner, and the mystery and POWER of the lyric (song) Poe presented was a wonder. I loved running (it was technically an obsession, I suppose), can’t do it anymore because I did too much of it in my life – you can take that as a metaphor if you wish – but still love to watch runners…the flow, the magic of human movement, the legs, the arms, like bits and pieces of the lyric poem. I read Poe and found bits and pieces of my body embracing and feeling empowered.
I have nothing against the epic, narrative poems, but I am thankful to Poe and the other writers over the years who have empowered my imagination and grabbed my throat with lines like, “…come celebrate/with me that everyday/something has tried to kill me/and has failed” (Lucille Clifton).