My poetry awakening happened as a result of The Poet’s Companion. There are two poems in there by Jack Gilbert (Michiko Dead and Finding Something) that showed me how directly poetry can communicate. I didn’t know it was capable of that. It’s like when I first had my wife’s Brussels sprouts. I always thought I hated Brussels sprouts, but when I tasted hers (sautéed in bacon fat), it was a revelation.
I know what you mean about “sprawling” and “swimming” in a novel. That is wonderful. Poetry doesn’t offer that. But it offers something else. When it works, it’s like a quick dagger-strike of insight to the brainstem. That moment when your tongue connects with dark chocolate.
Who can resist that?