Poetry is for YOU (plus, a GIVEAWAY!)

I know plenty of people who are bookworms but not poetry lovers. Maybe they were forced to read poetry written in archaic language when they were in high school and then asked to write a dreaded analysis. That kills it for so many people!

Or maybe they just think poetry is full of flowery language that they can’t understand or relate to. No one wants to feel stupid, so poetry gets shelved along with old yearbooks. Let me just say, this is not the point of poetry at all! It’s not meant to be only for those “brainy, heady types”. Poetry is for everyone!

For me, poetry is a breath of fresh air. It’s a way to connect emotion, intuition, and mystery with words. It’s fluid and freeing and touches me deeply in a way that prose cannot.

For those of you whose interest in poetry has been blighted by education’s withering hand, I entreat you to try this: Go to your local library or bookstore. The children’s poetry is often an easy, accessible entry point. Pick up a book of poetry and open it. If one poem doesn’t appeal to you, turn a few pages and try another one. If that particular poet doesn’t appeal to you, set that book down and reach for something else. If you feel brave, find the grown-up poetry section and repeat.

I promise: there is poetry for you, for where you are at right now, and for the kind of language your heart speaks. You don’t have to decipher the meaning, write an analysis or attempt to understand every line. You just have to listen with your heart and see if the poet is speaking to you.

If you’re brand new to poetry, head to The Poetry Foundation’s website to read more poetry than you can imagine. Here are a few poets you might want to start with:

Shel Silverstein

Mary Oliver

Jack Prelutsky

Maya Angelou

Ogden Nash

Wendell Berry

OK, about the giveaway! **U.S. Residents ONLY** I am giving away a brand new copy of Plough Publishing’s poetry book The Heart’s Necessities to one reader. Read my review here. To enter: 1. Subscribe to this blog. 2. Follow me on Instagram. I will choose one reader at random on Friday May 31st. Good luck, readers!

Evening Poetry, May 10

Homage (for Mary Oliver)

by David Whyte

So simple

so clear,

so here.

Like a cat

pawing

the air

or the whip

crack

sound

of a dog

snapping

at a fly.

Always

toward

the end,

the way

we are never

quite

prepared

to find

the beautiful

sense

of hidden

pleasurable

and complete

surprise

in the poem

until

reading

the

very

last line,

but which

is

the one

you

remember

and

that stays

with you

day after day

when you do.

You can find this poem and more in David Whyte’s collection The Bell and the Blackbird.

Evening Poetry, April 30

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the praises and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.

Evening Poetry, April 29

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Milkweed

the milkweed now with their many pods are standing

like a country of dry women.

The wind lifts their flat leaves and drops them.

This is not kind, but they retain a certain crisp glamour;

moreover, it’s easy to believe

each one was once young and delicate, also

frightened; also capable

of a certain amount of rough joy.

I wish you would walk with me out into the world.

I wish you could see what has to happen, how

each one crackles like a blessing

over its thin children as they rush away.

This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.

Evening Poetry, April 28

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light–

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch , now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

This poem can be found in the collection Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, April 27

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Not Anyone Who Says

Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be

careful and smart in the matters of love,”

who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,”

but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all

but were, as it were, chosen

by something invisible

and powerful and uncontrollable

and beautiful and possibly even

unsuitable–

only those know what I’m talking about

in this talking about love.

This poem can be found in the collection Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 26

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

I Did Think, Let’s Go About This Slowly

I did think, let’s go about this slowly.

This is important. This should take

some really deep thought. We should take

small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t.

This poem is found in the collection Felicity.