Today at the Writing Project we read Szymborska's "Possibilities," a hopeful poem of preferences. Each line begins with the refrain "I prefer..." and the piece becomes a litany of the narrator's (imagined? idealized?) world. Quite nice. I wrote my own version:
I prefer punk rock music.
I prefer novels by Elmore Leonard, Roddy Doyle, and Joyce Carol Oates.
I prefer Canada and the Harvey's Burgers you can get there.
I prefer playing cards with Nicole when we both should be working.
I prefer good teaching days when students have energy and wow me with words at least once.
I prefer talkative students to those who stay passive and quiet, though I was quiet when I sat in their desks.
I prefer acceptance letters from academic journals instead of rejections that can ruin a day or week or more.
I prefer young bands from Detroit who play grimy music in grimy bars in the shadows of dead auto plants.
I prefer preachers who preach justice to preachers who preach rules.
I prefer peace to war.
I prefer brown bag lectures on campus and visiting writers.
I prefer Tues/Thurs teaching to a 9-to-5 lifestyle.
I prefer office hours to department meetings.
I prefer Arabic or Thai over a steakhouse.
I prefer memories of college over memories of high school.
I prefer a large coffee with two packets of Splenda.
I prefer Saturdays spent cooking.
I prefer walking in Western Woods when I'm in Oxford but not the allergies that follow.
Szymborska's poem reminds me of the 100-Things Meme that many post on their blogs as a kind of a revelatory, list-oriented, personal instroduction. Poetry and blogging are similar in so many ways: their (sometime) indulgence, their focus on "documentary" writing, their reporting of the familiar/the unfamiliar/the mundane/the extraordinary, their playfulness.