I’m a poet and I bet you didn’t know it!
I’ve always loved poetry. As a child, during tough times, I found comfort in poems… they were like quiet friends I could turn to for solace. Poetry’s themes and words spoke to me. I trusted poems to say what I needed to hear. The gentle rhythms calmed me. And they still do. Poems always seem to arrive just when I need them to, and when they don’t come to me, I go seeking for them.
I’ve been playing with words, and poetry has been happening in my life, since I was a teenager full of angst and dreams. When I was an elementary school teacher, I loved to inspire my students, their parents, and my colleagues to explore poetry. I’d tell them that there would be times in their lives when they would just need poetry. That something would be going on with them for which they wouldn’t be able to find the right words . . . but, they could find poems – and the poems would have the words they needed. Sometimes a poem is also just a snippet of joy. The nursery rhymes of childhood can be a glimpse into playful nonsense when nothing in the adult world seems to make sense any more.
April is National Poetry Month and it’s celebrated worldwide. This month, and ideally all year, we’re reminded that poets have an integral role to play in our lives, and that poetry matters. Given what’s happening currently, poetry’s inspiring language is needed now more than ever, for its consolation and strength, its magic and awakening of hearts.
Curiously enough, as we call 8-1-1 for health information, it reminds me that in the Dewey Decimal System, 811 is where poetry anthologies live. I’d say that this must be unintentional confirmation that poetry is good for our well-being!
As we all stay close to home, poetry can transport us to unfamiliar places, bring magical ideas, and stimulate our imagination – just as great books can! Poetry can help us consider new adventures to explore when we are free again. Here are links and downloadable pdf’s with a few poetry ideas that you might like to pursue over the next days, weeks and month’s to come…
One of my favourite poems is Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day. It ends with these words:
WHAT IS IT YOU PLAN
TO DO WITH YOUR
AND PRECIOUS LIFE?
Now is our time to dream; a time to plan for a new world, and to remember that poetry can be enjoyed across all ages. It will open our eyes to the beauty of nature, restore our belief in the power of language, and help us find the truths inside ourselves!
Yours in poetic companionability,
ps… here’s my favourite poetry idea:
Create a poem break hat. Find a hat in your house and decorate it with stuff… pins, badges, buttons, ribbon… Now find a favourite poem in a book or on the internet. Practice reading it out loud to yourself a few times. Then teach your family and friends that when you put on the hat its time for a poem break. That means they have to stop whatever they are doing and listen to your poetry – just do one poem at a time so it really is just a little break. Once you’re done take off the hat and let everyone go back to doing whatever they were doing before. Later find another poem and take breaks again and again and again. Get everyone to take turns putting on the hat and sharing a poem. Enjoy the smiles that will come with this little bit of daily poetry joy!