Musings on World Poetry Day
Today, we sing the praises of poetry around the world, its power to teach and heal and console and bond. We can all name at least one poet whose work moves us, whether it be Shakespeare or Dickinson or Amanda Gorman. But consider the vastness of a world that includes work by writers Seamus Heaney, Barolong Seboni or Alfonsina Storni. Today, why not discover the work of a poet you’ve never heard of before?
Or celebrate your own poetic possibilities by writing a poem yourself! A poem need not rhyme. It doesn’t require a rigid structure. Even if you despair of your poetic prowess, you can write a haiku. The only skill required is the counting of syllables: Five in the first line, seven in the second, and five again in the third.
Read how the classic Japanese poet Sokan does it in the poem “Death-Song”:
If they ask for me
Say: he had some business
In another world
Poetry unlocks our deepest emotions, makes personal our struggles and joys, and gives name to what is unfathomable. Sounds pretty heavy, huh? It needn’t be. Break up your blues with a piece by Ogden Nash or Shel Silverstein. Revel in the poetry of your favorite song. Snuggle up with a sonnet, praise a pantoum, ogle an ode … but whatever you do, be sure to pass on the power of poetry to your friends.
Here’s a poem I wrote about – what else? – poetry:
Syllables sing in splendid anapest,
croon in sweet trochee.
Such sleight of foot! A spondee
pulled plump and perfect
as a dove from a sorcerer’s sleeve!
Words whirl and waft into your ear
and knit into your bones. Beware.
What has come cannot be extracted.
You must live your life giddy as a daffodil,
lonely as a cloud. Inside you, your heart
will beat a mad pentameter, lulled
by verse, besotted as a red, red rose.