If you read a poem quickly, you miss it. The words may scroll past your eyes, but the meaning is lost. As I look back on my participation in National Poetry Month, this is the lesson I remember most: slow down and pay attention. It’s an apt lesson for a world of 140-character soundbites and short attention spans. Often, with all the information available to me—news stories, recipes, blog posts, status updates—my mind ricochets like a ping-pong ball. Poetry doesn’t allow for this. I like that.
Since April 3, I’ve shared 26 poems on the blog. (To read the first post in this series, “Rediscovering Poetry,” click here.) Some were familiar to me, others were poems I discovered along the way. This month-long experiment of mine has reaffirmed poetry’s importance not only in my creative life but in our greater culture too. I think the human spirit needs poetry. Just as a person’s life is enriched by knowing more than her native tongue, our inner lives are enriched by developing fluency in multiple creative languages.
There’s a U.S. holiday coming up this weekend: Mother’s Day. If Americans ever shell out money for poetry, it’s for the verses that decorate greeting cards. Why? I think it’s because we know that poetry (even mass-produced, trite poetry) has the ability to communicate emotion and meaning in a different way. My own greeting card messages always fall a little flat: “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I hope you have a great day! I love you!” Maybe this year, I should attempt an original poem instead?
If you missed them, here’s a list of the poems I shared on the blog in April. I’ve linked each one to the post where they originally appeared: