Friday, March 17, 2017

SOL #17 Poetry in the Morning

This March writing challenge is organized by Two Writing Teachers

I missed yesterday.  I'm a little bummed about it, but am trying not to be discouraged.  Life happens.

This morning I got into the car and turned on NPR, bracing myself for my daily onslaught of disturbing news.  Instead, I landed in the middle of an interview with a poet, whom I quickly identified as Kwame Alexander.  (Imagine my smugness when this was confirmed at the end of the interview.)  He read a  poem inspired by his daughters and by e. e. cummings, and by the end of it, I was in tears with joy.  The sun was rising behind the mountain and the sky was all pink and gold glory.  I thought--even if this is the only good part of the day, it will be a great day.

The rest of the day delivered, though.  Sixth period (last class!
 on a Friday!  the week before spring break!) one girl looked at me and whispered. "It's so quiet in here.  Everyone is actually reading."  Also, I stress-baked last night, so I had biscuits and chocolate cookies to snack on throughout the day.  My son had a great day at school, my husband already had dinner planned, and the boy whose mom I talked to the other day was on his best behavior too.

I was so delighted by being read poetry in the morning that I got onto Audible and used one of my husband's credits to get Good Poems, a collection of poetry read by Garrison Keillor on Writer's Almanac over the years.  The print version would give me time to mull over (or, perhaps, skim past) certain poems, but it is really going to class up my commute to have someone reading me poetry the whole way.

Here are the lines I pulled while washing dishes:

"I hear a butterfly stirring inside a caterpillar."  Charles Simic
Something about change, possibility, and grace in here that I really needed to hear right now.

"What luxury, to be so happy we can grieve over imaginary lives."  Liesel Mueller 
A reminder for all us book lovers.  The people in the poem are weeping over Chekov.

And from the book Alexander was being interviewed about this morning:
"Find your way to that one true word 

(or two)."  
from Kwame Alexander's "How to Write a Poem"
I love that sly little pause and addition at the end.

I don't think of myself as a "poetry person."  Emily Dickinson baffles me, and anything fancier than that feels like a test I'm failing.  I also struggle with writing poetry.  Whenever I attempt it, I end up with prose with weird line breaks.  (That's why I'm so fond of haiku and limericks--I can spout cheerful nonsense within those formats and call it light verse.)  But there are definitely poets and poetry I love, and Keillor's collection is right up my alley.  Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, Raymond Carver, Billy Collins.  Straightforward, but still poetic, with an ability to surprise and illuminate.

A short list of poetry books that I've connected to over the years:


  1. Thank you for your poetic thoughts. I smiled as I read your slice and the snippets of poems you love. Poetry does add beauty to our world.

  2. Ohhh.. this is such a delightful post! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day and your love of poetry with us!

    Now I know to look into Audible (hadn't heard of it) and in that list of books you left for us!

    We're just wrapping up our spring break -- I wish you joy, rest and relaxation during yours!

  3. Poetry is a great way to start the morning. Kwame Alexander is lecturing at my old grad school in a few months. I’m kinda bummed that I graduated. I want to see the lecture.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  4. I am frequently intimidated by poetry but every now and then something reaches out and grabs me. The other day, I came across a poem by Billy Collins that did that. It was called Dear Reader. I had never heard of Billy Collins before (does that make me horribly uneducated?) but I will be looking for more of his writing.

    Maybe Audible is the way to do poetry. Hearing it makes it have more of an impact and you can't just skim which is what I tend to do.

  5. I've become more of a poetry person, thanks to reading Tara Smith's blog and following some of the Poetry Friday links. I really love Mary Oliver and Billy Collins. If you listen to podcasts, The Writer's Almanac is a nice five-minute start to a morning with some random "on this day so-and-so was born" news and the daily poem, which is often quite good.


Please share your thoughts. Comments are almost as sweet as chocolate!