I like to think that if I had been alive in New York circa 1920-30 Dorothy Parker and I would have been a great friends. In reality, she’d have scared the crap out of me with her cleverness and very sharp tongue. In her poetry in particular, beneath some stellar wordplay, lurks irritation, rage,  frustration, boredom–with being female, with love, with the ridiculousness of men and relationships, with life in general–and an unrest that results in some slyly beautiful language. Here’s the first piece of my favorite sonnet:

Fair Weather

This level reach of blue is not my sea;

Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,

Whose quiet ripples meet obediently

A marked and measured line, one after one.

This is no sea of mine, that humbly laves

Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.

I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;

They sicken of the calm who knew the storm.

Sweetness, obedience, humility…bleh. She goes on to ask for a reckless tide and desperate breakers to roar the heavens apart and how can one not agree? This is why I love Parker, and poetry in general–a few simple and beautiful words make me believe that nothing contributes more to living fully than turmoil, pain, and a reckless tide.

And, uh, humor too!  After dwelling for a while on the nobility of suffering, I turn the page and read:

News Item

Men seldom make passes/ At girls who wear glasses.

Thanks Dorothy!