HOW TO READ A BOOK OF POEMS

by heytherewildflower

1. flip through it backward

2.flip through forward

3. flip through at random

4. again, flip through at random

5. read it front to back

6. read it back to front and scribble all over it

7. read it front to back and skip some and scribble all over it

8. keep it forever

9. read it every four years or every two years, or at random at least once a decade.

10. scribble all over it.

11. misquote it at people

if you’re doing it any other way, you’re doing it wrong. completely right.

Our talk turns eventually to time. “I really believe in waste,” McHugh says. “One has to crumple up half a ream of printing paper and throw it away from oneself, with great force, to make room for the unexpected phrase.” She calls the forced perspective of time, time chauvinism. “Time is the ultimate fiction. Time is considered strictly in adult terms, the way adults experience time. But there is children’s time, which looks deceptively like inventing, and elderly time, which looks deceptively like forgetting. These aren’t considered proper time.” She sips her Dead Dog. “What does time look like to a hummingbird?” she says. “A hummingbird thinks we’re dead, it’s moving so fast. To us, starfish and limpets look dead.”

-Interview, “The Monarch Drinks With Heather McHugh”