Do you read (or write) poetry?

Posted April 8, 2018 by Lory in discussions / 32 Comments

I used to read a fair amount of poetry but have fallen out of the habit in recent years. Lately I’ve been hungering for it, though, and so I picked up The Heart’s Time compiled by Janet Morley, which offers a poem a day for the season of Lent and the first week after Easter, along with brief commentaries. It’s a wonderful journey through this time of year, which lends itself to meditation upon ourselves and our relationship to the world. Some of the poems are explicitly religious, some are not, but all seek to open our hearts and our vision to the wonder and surprise, as well as the pain and difficulties of this earthly journey. That can so often be poetry’s gift to us, whatever its ostensible subject.

Do you read poetry, and why? What are some of your favorite poets, or collections?

I’ve been quite astonished that not only have I started reading poetry, but I became inspired to write some again after a fallow period of a couple of decades. I was so impressed last year by Simon’s writing a poem a day during Lent, but thought I would never, ever be able to do the same. However, this year for some reason I just started on Ash Wednesday and have continued on an almost daily basis. It’s been a surprising and wonderful gift to me to discover how words can bring healing, insight, and rejuvenation when I let them speak to me in this way.

Below, I humbly share some of my poetic efforts with you. If you’ve written anything I’d love to know about it as well!

This one was addressed to my husband, who inspired a lot of my poems.

The game

When I throw thoughts at you
They come back as poems.
Like tennis balls
I toss and bounce,
Except they change in midair.

A flower, a bird,
An arrow, a stone –
Watch out, this game could get dangerous.

Swish, smack –
Does your head hurt
From all these knocks?
Should I stop flinging
My shouts of self
At your poor battered skull?

Or will you one day
Wake up and catch me
And fire back your name?

 

A poem about prayer that is also itself a prayer:

Prayer

Let silence grow in me
Deep as the falling snow
That blankets the world in softness
Made of invisible stars.

Let peace expand in me
Wide as the mountain range
That reaches the bounds of my seeing
And stretches to infinite space.

Let rhythm breathe in me
Steady as the pulsing sea
That through storm and stillness
Faithfully turns the tide.

Let rest envelop me
Healing as sacred sleep
That restores my self in darkness
And wakens my inner light.

 

The idea for the following poem came as I was taking a walk, looking at all the different colors found in mosses, leaves, etc. and thinking that trying to describe them as different shades of “green” would not work at all for someone who had not or could not see that color, and therefore would have no idea what “green” meant.

Seeing Green

If I say “green”
It cannot mean
A thing unseen.

Within the mind
Of one born blind
No green you’ll find.

Can words be found
To say green’s sound?
Sharp? Hollow? Round?

Or can I tell
Its taste or smell?
Not very well.

I’ll tell you where
Things greenness bear:
Leaf, meadow, pear.

Such signs, I say,
But point the way.
The essence? Nay.

That you must try
To come nearby
With your own eye.

And when you’ve seen
Your own true green
We’ll speak, and mean.

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32 responses to “Do you read (or write) poetry?

  1. Oh, for me this is very timely, as I’m about to start a poetry module for the creative writing course I’m attending. I could waffle at length about my approach to poetry — but I won’t, perhaps reserving my thoughts for a blog post 🙂 — but I will say this: as an occasional writer of minimalist poetry I really appreciated your three pieces, especially the repeated but varied openings of Prayer (a moving meditation, this) and the tight precision of Seeing Green. Marvellous, Lory.

  2. I do read poetry, yes indeed. I had a time when poems came to me, a few, I wrote them, but not anymore.
    My favorite poets are Antonio Machado and Juan Ramon Jimenez, Spanish poets. I also love Longfellow, Milne poems, and Edward Lear.
    Your poems were very enjoyable.
    Oh, I also like we’ll curated collections, and even the unmentionable!, poetry in translation.

  3. I used to write poetry when I was in undergrad, but then life got busy and I stopped. But I do still love to read it on occasion. As far as favorites, I’d have to say Pushkin and Akhmatova.

    Glad you’re getting back into reading and writing poetry! 🙂

  4. I like the verse that you wrote, especially The Game.

    I read poetry but not enough of it. Some of it seems so challenging. I do find that when I put effort into it the experience is worth it.

    • I have trouble with long or obscure poems. The short selections and commentary in The Heart’s Time were just perfect.

  5. I read poetry all the time, but just wrote a post about why I’ve had a difficult time writing about it for the last year. I love it when someone attempts a rhyming poem like “Seeing Green”!

  6. I really enjoyed your poetry! Especially The Game. My favorite poem is “Spring” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I do read poetry & have tried writing it — mostly just to practice. (I prefer writing prose. 🙂

  7. O Lory, I love Seeing Green <3!!

    I have begun, in recent years, to read more poetry. I can appreciate the images they evoke in few words. I love being touched and opened in this way.

  8. Oh wow, your poems are so good! I especially love The game, and the imagery of thoughts and poems as tennis balls! I’ve always wanted to be able to write poems, but every time I try I find it really hard and give up.
    I’d also like to get into reading more poetry, but I never know where to start. You’ve definitely inspired me to look around and see what’s out there though, and I may give poetry reading (and maybe even writing!) another go.
    Great post! 🙂

    • Finding writing poetry really hard and giving up is where I’ve been for the past 20 years, so I really don’t know why things changed suddenly, or how long I will continue. I found a couple of books that inspired me: A Poetry Primer by Gregory Orr, and Poetic Medicine by John Fox. They talk about how poetry enables us to heal and strengthen our soul life, and give some helpful exercises to get started.

      Checking out some anthologies from the library is always a good way to look into a variety of poets. You’re likely to find something that interests you. Good luck!

  9. Amy

    I really like your poetry! I enjoy writing and reading it a lot! I have a poetry tab on my blog. My current modern favorite is Habitation of Wonder by Abigail Carroll. This past weekend was Wordsworth’s birthday so I’ve pulled out some of his.

  10. I used to write poetry quite a lot, from my teens up until my thirties. I found it easier to write when I was discontented, so as I got older there was less I felt upset about and I wrote less (then I started this blog and now mostly write reviews). I do miss it though, and I love the feeling that poetry lets you think a little differently. I don’t read a lot of poets, though I’ve always appreciated Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, and Margaret Atwood (my favorite is her Variation on the Word Sleep).

  11. Another fan of The Game here, I love the idea behind it! But I really like the others too, especially the sort of patterning of Green. 🙂 Thank you for posting it! I imagine it wasn’t easy to do, share it publicly I mean. (But perhaps that’s just because I wouldn’t find it easy to do.)

    I didn’t read much poetry for years but now I have spates of reading a few poems before bedtime. It won’t surprise you but not reading much poetry has never stopped me from buying poetry collections and I have quite a few to work through. A book I return to as very comforting somehow is Come Hither, edited by Walter de la Mare, and I’m also very fond of a little book of Anglo-Saxon verse.

    • I was a bit shy to post my poems, but I knew my book blogging friends are so wonderfully supportive that they would cheer me on. So thank you, and everyone.

  12. I love that you’ve shared your poetry with us! These poems are all lovely. I haven’t written poetry in years. I wrote it when I was young, but for some reason it got harder as I got older—I think I had more expectations for myself and couldn’t let them go!

    • Thanks Nicole – I know what you mean about the expectations. To get over that hump sometimes I have to remember the times I’ve written something and thought “ugh this is terrible” and then pulled it out of a drawer much later and found it quite good. That inner critic is pretty powerful!

  13. I love your poems! You are very talented. I do enjoy reading poetry and occasionally I write my own as well. I can go a long time without writing any and then something will inspire me. One of my favourite anthologies is High Windows by Philip Larkin. I love T S Elliott as well. I feel like reading some more poetry now!

    • Ooh, I would like to see an anthology by Philip Larkin. Generally I enjoy the variety in an anthology, vs. reading many poems by the same poet. And thank you for your kind words!

  14. Susan

    Oh, enjoyed your poems! Such an open, beautiful quality to Prayer, and such a well-played Game! Bravo. I haven’t been writing nor really reading any poetry for the past couple of years, but there’s something so nourishing or encouraging about how whole poetry can feel. Those elements of our life or experience that we can’t sort out, nor articulate in prose are not just welcomed into the mix, and given a place, but are celebrated, in a poem.

    • Thank you Susan, it feels like such a gift to be able to write poetry again. I’m going through a non-writing phase at the moment but I hope to get back to it.

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