T.S. Eliot believed the role of the artist was to take what is familiar and make it strange, and to take what is strange and make it familiar. I relate most easily to works of art that follow Elliot’s adage, without going to extremes.
I like poems that incorporate aspects of the everyday, which take events or objects out of time and encourage focus and reflection. Billy Collins is a well known and deservingly lauded highlighter of the everyday. A less well known, favorite poet is Baron Wormser. I discovered him on Writer’s Almanac a few years ago, in the month of January with a poem titled “January.”
Mr. Wormser just published a book of poems, Scattered Chapters: New & Selected Poems (Sarabande Books, 2008). It’s on order at CLP. Until it arrives, read a few featured new poems on the Writer’s Almanac website. Here’s the beginning of one called “A Quiet Life”:
What a person desires in life
is a properly boiled egg.
This isn’t as easy as it seems.
There must be gas and a stove,
the gas requires pipelines, mastodon drills,
banks that dispense the lozenge of capital.