It’s no secret that I adore National Poetry Month. For one entire month, I’m not a nerd: I’m in tune! I can post poetry to my FB. I can talk poetry to strangers. I can confess I love it!
This is no small thing, as you probably guessed.
So… Why is poetry a big deal to me? What does it have to do w/ beginner’s heart, and why should you — why should all of us — care?
Poetry is the language of the heart. I firmly believe that. When even the least publicly poetic of us hurt, suffer loss, are in love…we turn to poetry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to write a poem for someone’s funeral, for a grieving friend. It’s a natural language — mother tongue — for children, who often scribble poems for any occasion. No self-consciousness, just a happy sharing.
As we ‘grow up’ this changes. We no longer hand our poetic offerings to any & all. We may admit to liking lyrics (just poetry set to music, quite often), but we don’t ‘read poetry.’
But I do. And I always have. As a little kid, I submitted my poems to a children’s magazine of the times. Each month, I would turn to the Table of Contents to see if I’d been published. But I also wanted to read what the other kids were saying. Because even the lightest of ‘verse’ has meaning, and gives us a window into someone else.
As for what poetry has to do w/ beginner’s heart…? Everything, for me. Reading the poem of a refugee, an ageing man, a child confronting loss, a black woman struggling to stand tall against racism & sexism… These all stretch me. I’m none of the above, but through a poem — and for me, poetry works better than fiction — I catch a true glimpse, it feels like. My poetry mentors are rarely ‘like me': they’re a black man, a gay white man, a gay Englishman, several black women, 2-3 Poles (both men & women), long-dead Chinese poets… The list is long and as colourful as the words in a good poem.
For the rest of the month, I’m going to include — at least now & then — a link to a poem I love, that I hope you’ll love, as well. Try it — the worst that will happen is you’ll like it. And have to live for this one month, every year.
In a Station of the Metro (Ezra Pound, 1885-1972)
The apparition of these faces in the crowd
Petals on a wet, black bough