I just read an article by Billy Collins about his “first love” of poems on the Poetry Society of America’s website. Billy Collins writes that John Donne’s “The Flea” was the poem to ignite his love affair with poetry, to stimulate “…the first symptom of what was to develop into a chronic love sickness for poetry.”
For me, the first poem to “turn me green” as Collins would say was Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.” At that time in my life, the suffocating sense of the poem was something I could easily relate to. I had to read the poem for a college class and upon first read, kept going back and rereading the previous stanza. I read it repeatedly that night and like Billy Collins, still have that very book on my bookshelf complete with my lines and squiggles to highlight my favorite lines along with notes about how the poem made me feel. I chose this poem to recite for the class at the end of the semester. From then on, I was hooked. From then on, I looked to any poem that fell into my hands as a treasure to help me to understand myself, process my feelings, and interpret the world.
How did your love affair with poetry begin?