April 26, 2012

My Two Cents: Poetry

Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day and I am celebrating by printing out a fun Shel Silverstein (real name, Sheldon Allan Silverstein, best name ever) poem:

Glad to have a pocket today, appropriately placed...
I remember reading the poems in Where the Sidewalk Ends a million times. I loved saying the poems in my head, out loud, with friends. When I met my now-husband, he wowed me by reciting Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too by memory (I was smitten). When asked to recite a poem on camera for a class project in elementary school, I chose Pancake by Shel Silverstein and chose the daunting task of memorizing Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out for another assignment.

Other than being exposed to poetry and literature at home, I remember my first assignment in third grade to write my own poem. We read a short, little verse and were asked to copy the iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme. I still remember the poem:
Celery raw
Develops the jaw
But celery stewed
Is more quietly chewed.

I handed in the following:
Mothers are loving
When sisters are shoving
Kicking and biting
Punching and fighting.

I know, deep, right?. My parents thought it was the greatest poem ever (whaaa?) and sometimes my dad will be like, "Remember that poem!? Mothers are..." - sometimes I feign forgetfulness, but of course I remember, Papa.

My parents bought me a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry and I delved into trying to understand the words and meanings. Her hermit life fascinated me and I was shocked to uncover the worldly and humanistic points-of-view in her poems, considering her limited interaction with the world.

Poetry is for everyone - children, adults, men, women, anyone and everyone. People may think it's too artsy-fartsy (yeah, I said that), and its true that it can be confusing or worse, like performance art (for me, performance art is weird and uncomfortable). But it's about finding things that you like about poetry. For me, poems are about fun, but also about expressing feelings and sentiments that I can't put into words. Much like viewing a beautiful painting, listening to a symphony, or reading a good book...to stop, put it down, and cry...or remember...or laugh...or smile.

Do you remember what it felt like to read Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken? Or reading Shakespeare? Or Because I Could Not Stop For Death by Dickinson? How about Edgar Allan Poe, E.E. Cummings, Walt Whitman, or Y.B. Yeats? Do you remember writing haikus and coming up with creative ways of fitting in all those thoughts into a tiny structure? Whether the various themes, rhyme or free verse, poems can be fun, interesting, touching, moving, cathartic, historical...the list goes on.

I cannot wait to read poetry and literature to my children every night. There is so much to learn in life and I think that poems can be guides as well as soundboards for our emotional and mental states.Go to Poets.org, print out a poem, put it in your pocket, and read it to someone today!

Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Why not share it with everyone today?

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