by Ann Menebroker
Tiny Teeth, the Wormwood Review poems
R.L. Crow Publications, 2004
FOR MOTHER'S DAY, my mother and daughter gave me a hummingbird feeder. I combined one part white granulated table sugar with four parts regular tap water, bringing it to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. I figured I would use red food coloring, just one time, to lure them in, even though I have heard that this may be harmful to their digestive system. My husband hung the feeder outside our kitchen window. In an email to Annie, I mentioned how I was eagerly awaiting the hummingbirds arrival and she wrote back, “I love hummingbirds, too and when I had my own place, had a feeder and was amazed the first time I saw one of them sitting quietly. It was hard to believe.”
Annie's response, in some strange way, hit me as an extended metaphor for the admiration that I have for her and her writing. Annie is my first hummingbird, what I mean by this is I had been waiting for a writer, like Annie to come into my life. I, like so many small press writers, admire the strong, no-nonsense work of writers like Bukowski and the other members of the Meat School of poetry, known for its direct, tough and masculine verse. But I always yearned for the female perspective. I liken the process of finding Annie to being a high school student and spending countless hours reading the Beats at the local library and finally discovering the work of writers like Joyce Johnson and Carolyn Cassidy, of course you have to remember that my research in the library was before the days of the internet information superhighway. I think we all have to remember that there are all these amazing gems in the underground press, but sometimes it takes time to find what you are looking or maybe it takes time to even realize what you are looking for.
I discovered Annie's work through a mutual friend, Hosho McCreesh, who mentioned how my work reminded him of her earlier work. Hosho was surprised when I told him I wasn't all that familiar with her work and he urged me to check her out. He wasn't the first friend who had recommended her, so I figured it was time to get my hands on some of her work. I ended up ordering a copy of Tiny Teeth, a collection of poems that appeared throughout the years in issues of The Wormwood Review. I was not only drawn to the ideas that she was writing about because she wrote the pieces when she was my age, but also because of her blunt approach. I read the collection twice in one day and was compelled to write Annie and tell her how much her work meant to me. Annie's response was warm, sincere and inspirational. Within a few emails, I felt as if I had known her for years. I can not explain the connection I feel, other than to say that Annie, for me, helps answer the question that titles this column, “Why Poetry?”