Wait. Is she breaking up with me?
My good friend and Poetry Buddy Megan Willome emailed me early one Tuesday morning, wondering if it might be time to bring this project to an end. Since beginning Operation Poetry Dare I’ve come to expect not only a poem a day in my inbox, but also Megan’s thoughtful response to each day’s offering. And not only have we discussed pieces delivered by Every Day Poems, but Megan has also introduced me to some of her personal favorites.
“I think you’ll like this one,” Megan writes when she sends something which reminds her of me. Discussing poetry has enabled us not only to appreciate each other’s tastes, but has also deepened our relationship with and understanding of one another.
When Megan emailed me her Will Oldham piece in which she flung the anti-poetry guy’s words back at him, I responded:
That’s it. I officially love poetry!
I also have a confession to make—a couple, actually:
- I started a poetry board on Pinterest
- I now have several books of poetry in my personal collection
I suspect there may be a few cynics among those reading who think this was just a stunt. Maybe I was a plant—that secretly I had been a poetry lover all along but was pretending to be afraid of it for the sake of this project.
I say this because, if I weren’t the one participating in this experiment, that’s exactly what I would be thinking. In all honesty, I did not love poetry. I did not understand it. I had no use for it. I fully expected to walk away from this project completely unchanged.
Yes, I am ornery enough to accept a dare just to prove someone wrong.
I had some very personal reasons for accepting this dare at this point in my life. Having accumulated a nearly full head of gray hair, I realize time is running short for me to learn new things. When I was offered the opportunity to learn something about poetry, I thought, “If I don’t learn this now, I may never again have the chance. And I get to learn about it for free!”
I also accepted the dare because I want to embrace a little more mystery in my life, and poetry is nothing if not mysterious. Thus far, my life has been very much about plans and lists and spreadsheets. For many years, sewing was the most creative activity I ever attempted. In sewing, I could follow a pattern, cut along a solid line and stitch pieces together following a dotted one. I made sure all my seams met together at perfect points. If not, I ripped them out and started over.
I realize life is seldom ever that neat and tidy. Following lists, plans, and dotted lines hasn’t always led me to the outcome I expected. Other forces are at work; mysteries are afoot. Poetry whispers to me about things I believe but can’t see or control. It hints at missing pieces in my concrete reality.
Sometimes, though, poetry just makes me laugh.
In her email in which she promised she wasn’t breaking up with me, Megan wrote:
I think this has been good for all of us. Tweetspeak is a fun place, and you brought the funny. . . I also think that you have developed a taste for poetry. It may always be a little alien to you, but I think you can now appreciate a good one when you see one. And I’m sure . . . you’ll find that appreciation helping your writing. There’s nothing like poetry to teach you how to do a lot with only a few words.
And I’ve enjoyed having a Poetry Buddy! I’m never in a teaching role, and I don’t think I’d ever want to be an actual official teacher, but this has been fun. It’s made me feel like I have something to share even though I don’t have a published book of poetry or a poetry degree . . .
We have agreed to continue our conversation, but no longer as a project. We’ll talk about poetry when we want to. Operation Poetry Dare has reached its finish, the data have been collected, and these are the conclusions I’ve drawn from my experiment:
- Poetry may be mysterious, but it’s not dangerous
- Poetry is probably best taught by someone who loves it
- Poetry may not be a subject to be learned at all, but rather a conversation; a call-and-response
- The best way to get comfortable with poetry is by reading poetry
- The folks at Tweetspeak really do care about having fun and helping people become who they really are
- There is probably not a man, woman or child who couldn’t benefit from having a little more poetry in their lives–or a poetry buddy
Follow the rest of Nancy and Megan’s journey in Operation Poetry Dare:
Operation Poetry Dare: Introduction
Operation Poetry Dare: I Can’t Dance to It
Operation Poetry Dare: For the Love
Operation Poetry Dare: What a Poetry Buddy is For
Operation Poetry Dare: Poetry Brain
A Poetry Dare for Will Oldham, the anti-poetry guy
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