Over at the website Voltage Poetry, Kim Addonizio and I are orchestrating a conversation about poems that have amazing turns in them.  With over 80 contributors so far, this ongoing conversation extends Structure & Surprises‘s investigation into the turn, shifting from a consideration of kinds of turns to identifying great turns and discussing why they are so powerful, so moving.

Here, though, is my personal–and, again, constantly growing and evolving–collection of poems that engage particularly thrilling turns:

“The Secret of Poetry,” by Jon Anderson

“Western Wind,” by Anonymous

“The Fall of Rome,” by W. H. Auden

“An American in Hollywood,” by Frank Bidart

“The Tradition,” by Jericho Brown

“Any Man May Be Called a Pilgrim Who Leaveth the Place of His Birth,” by Christina Davis (in Forth a Raven (Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 2006): 18).

“Demeter’s Last Stand,” by Joanne Diaz (scroll down)

“Fragments,” by Stephen Dobyns

from Holy Sonnets, VII (“At the round earth’s imagined corners, blow”), by John Donne

“The Flea,” by John Donne

“Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part…,” by Michael Drayton

“Islands and Figs,” by Jack Gilbert (in Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 2012): 51).

“Archaic Fragment,” by Louise Gluck

“Embodies,” by Jorie Graham

“Untitled,” by Jonathan Greene

“The Collar,” by George Herbert

“Justice (1),” by George Herbert

“The snow is melting…,” by Issa

“Heat,” by Denis Johnson

“Passengers,” by Denis Johnson

A number of amazing acts of turning are engaged in this poem, including the concessional turn after line 2, the self-reflective turning in lines 10 and 12, and then the final, smashing leap: “and I will never die.” Stunning!

Letter to Mrs. James Wylie–August 6, 1818, by John Keats

“Bat,” by D. H. Lawrence

“Song of a Man Who Has Come Through,” by D. H. Lawrence (scroll down)

“The Other Place,” by William Logan

“Portrait of a Child,” by Corey Marks

“Sonnet,” by Bernadette Mayer

“Winter,” by Czeslaw Milosz  In “Close Reading: Windows” (The Writer’s Chronicle 43.4 (Feb. 2011): 22-30), poet-critic Jane Hirshfield defines and praises “Winter” as “a poem which turns toward almost every direction of human life, whose fidelity is in the end simply to life–and whose mid-point turn to the vocative ‘you’ is…among the most breathtaking transitions and window-openings to be found in poetry anywhere, in its intimacy and in what it summons.”

“Because You Asked about the Difference between Poetry and Prose,” by Howard Nemerov

“The Day Lady Died,” by Frank O’Hara

“The Dark Hills,” by Edward Arlington Robinson

“As in the midst of battle there is room…,” by George Santayana

“East Hampton Airport,” by Frederick Seidel

“Morning,” by Frederick Smock

“Between Walls,” by William Carlos Williams

Good conversation about “Between Walls” can be found here.

“A Sort of a Song,” by William Carlos Williams

“Mind,” by Richard Wilbur

“Between the World and Me,” by Richard Wright

“Mad Daughter and Big-Bang,” by Araki Yasusada (in Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada, edited and translated by Tosa Motokiyu, Ojiu Norinaga, and Okura Kyojin (New York: Roof Books, 1997): 11).

8 responses

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