Poetry month continues, and definitions and the understanding of poetry can take hours, or days, to read, digest, and filter through until you can finally, and simply, pluck the style you enjoy reading. Our history is loaded with poets, poets of charm, anger, lust, dreams, and so on. It is a reading of time, slow time. It is a form of literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.
In our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, we have various poetry sprinkled throughout. We share our inspiration, either from a class, workshop, gazing out a window, or walking in the elements of the state we live in.
One of my favorites in the book is what we call ‘Five Poems by Five Women’. There were five of us present at this meeting. We gathered a list of words, each of us chose five words. One began with writing a sentence/line from one of their chosen words, then passed to the right. The next person read that line, then wrote one line using one of their words and passed to the right until we had completed five lines. We continued the same pattern with our next word and so on until we had five poems. I would like to share Poem One:
The flaming liquid sun
Stared down the lonely man
As he drew a breath of life no more
And melted into shimmering sand
His bone became grains and destiny was left at someone else’s hand.
Several years later Jackie was living in Colorado. On an early light breezy, spring morning, we did a Facetime from Diana’s dining table with warm croissants, jams, fresh kiwi, and strawberries. She also endorses one of the biggest selections of international teas I have ever seen. “Let’s do a poem.” Jackie whines through the small iPhone screen, “You know I can’t do poetry!” Diana throws out the word letters. I was still focused on how much butter I wanted on my flakey croissant and spooning a coral shade of prickly pear jelly. As I munched, I felt I couldn’t find any poignant words.
Letters, like our windy spring
Could not rest, find a place
To settle and form a thought.
Words fluttered like a bees nest
not still, nor formidable but buzzed
and made no sense.
A line with no beginning, caught in
a breeze, turned upside down, back
around, and scuttled in leafy piles.
A poem waits, on sharp edges, in empty
spouts, under a crack, on the back of a lizard,
in the flurry of the hummingbird.
Today might be the moment life and nature
anchor, the external slides inward, the internal
to bear witness, to snare the notes in my head.
Early on, it took years for me to come back to poetry as a reader. What poets do you recall from high school that may have resonated? Do you have a book of poetry stuck deep in one of your bookshelves? Three of my favorites are Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures where she writes with her face close to nature; Sheila Bender, Since Then, transforming mortal heartbreak into a sustaining love of the world; and Carolyn Forché, Blue Hour, whose imagery captures the edgy sensations and atmosphere of the world that surrounds us. These women write with distinct personal passion and power.
Be creative in your reading and writing!