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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.

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Lori Strawn

Providence Associate Lori Strawn is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Witchita, Kansas. A 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Lori formerly served on the advisory board for the Providence Associates.

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6 Comments

  1. Linda McMahon. PA on March 21, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    Thank you, Lori, for your reflection. I accept your invitation to explore the poets and their poetry that are new to me and I look forward to experiencing their gifts.

  2. Jane Fischer on March 21, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    Xie Xie, Lori! Merci too. It’s late but now I must read Sokan!
    Domo Arigato.

  3. Cathy Dearing on March 22, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Lori,

    I loved your article! What a great reminder and invitation to rediscover/discover the beauty and power of poetry! We don’t need to be trained in how to read, interpret, and write a poem as a prerequisite in doing so. As a place to begin, just go with the flow of it, right? And see what happens….

    Thanks Lori!

  4. Donna Butler on March 22, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Lori,
    You were definitely the right person to write this blog! It is filled with invitation and possibilities. It is a real celebration. I loved your poem, so musical and lovely images.

  5. Sabrina Falls on March 22, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Lori, thank you for your musings and your exquisite poem. During the pandemic I have found that poetry provides comfort and spiritual sustenance when some of my other usual “go-to’s” for that have felt somehow inadequate. On my bedside table I’ve had Mary Oliver’s “Devotions” and a collection of Rumi’s poetry. Right now I’m finding sustenance from reading “The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature” by J. Drew Lanham, who in addition to being a poet is a birder, naturalist, essayist, and professor of wildlife ecology. Poetry reaches the heart in a way similar to music–it uses words to express things for which there otherwise would not seem to be words!

  6. PAULA DAMIANO, SP on March 22, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you, Lori. I’m grabbing a book of poetry for my bedtime reading tonight!

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