Poems that Make Grown Men Cry
Anthony and Ben Holden, eds, Poems that Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words that Move Them (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014)
I am not one who can read and process poetry at a rapid pace. In fact, I sent a little over three months with this book. It is delightfully well-constructed with an introduction by each author about why and how the words affect them emotionally and spiritually. Then the poem is presented. There is at least one case where multiple authors selected the same poem, but their individual reasons are unique and worth reading. The poems, like many others, deserve to be read aloud and pondered.
Being a grown man myself and discovering that age is making me more, not less, sentimental, I found this volume to be powerful. Perhaps that is the desired effect among sentimental old fools. If so, I’m just the audience the book seeks.
One comment that starts with a story. A decade or so ago, I met Robert Bly. He was in our city for a workshop that our church hosted. It was the day of men getting in touch with their feelings. There was drumming and other activity. My initial reaction, I must say, was not very positive. I found the man to be pompous and full of himself, and not very aware of the writings of others, even those in his field. I am a student of philosophy and enjoy a good philosophical discussion, but he wasn’t interested in anything except his own point of view. So, it seemed quite appropriate that out of 100 authors, only one chose his own work as a poem that moves him emotionally. You guessed it. That one exception was Robert Bly.
Had I been editing the book, I would have left that entry out and sought out one more writer.