I was talking the other day with a couple of twenty-somethings in my extended family who are the kind of people who, when the conversation hits a lull, will reignite it with a question like, “Tell me what else you’ve read lately.” While the rest of the room talked home improvement and sports and weather and any number of worthy subjects, we three talked about literature and not only how much we like it, but really, how much we need it. How fiction can cultivate empathy, and how poetry can help us cope with complexity.
There’s no denying these are times of great complexity. Every time in history is a time of great complexity. But there is no time like the present to bring such complexity into focus. Citizens in a Middle Eastern nation remain under siege. Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Haiti as I type. Europe continues to grapple with a future of fragmentation. Here in the U.S. we scratch our collective heads over what the current election cycle has wrought.
This is not to mention the complexity that might be unfolding in your home, on your street, in your office or in the check-out line where the tabloids, if nothing else, will remind you with bold headlines and grainy photos what’s going on (or not) in the world around us.
So let me say this: the people standing next to you on this day in history need poetry. Offering a poem — slipped under a windshield wiper, sneaked into a lunch bag, left behind in chalk on a sidewalk, sent along with a bill payment, recited before a meeting, or tucked under a pillow — is a simple, random act which is in and of itself an act of kindness.
Commit a Random Act of Poetry
Share poetry with the world (your world) today, on Random Acts of Poetry Day — a day devoted to painting poetry in the public square (figuratively or literally). Download our little e-booklet of ideas or generate a random idea of your own. We’d love to see what you do, so post your random act on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #raopoetryday (follow us on Twitter at @tspoetry and Instagram at @tspoetry). Come back tomorrow and we’ll have a fun wrap-up featuring our favorite Random Acts of Poetry that we saw.
Need Poems to Share? Try Some of These
Photo by Lily, Creative Commons license via Flickr.