Once upon a time, we dared a friend who claimed to be afraid of poetry to read a poem a day. Just yesterday, I saw she tweeted this:
— Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson) March 25, 2014
Later, we dared another friend who wasn’t afraid of poetry but might have been keeping her distance from certain poets to read T.S. Eliot every day. After a few days, she had this to say:
— SandraHeskaKing (@SandraHeskaKing) January 23, 2014
We’ve noticed something about people who read poetry every day: they write better, whether it’s poetry or prose. Maybe it comes from exposure to well-crafted lines. A little like osmosis, so to speak. Or maybe a corollary to what your mother always told you about the kind of friends you keep. I like to think it also comes from what the words do once they get inside you. Those well-crafted lines have a way of opening passages into our souls. They gently (and sometimes not so gently) push us to look at things differently. And they sometimes require that we not have an answer for things. I tend to think these sorts of developments can make us better at writing, yes. I also tend to think they can make us better at being human.
With the release of her new collection, Love, Etc.: poems of love, laughter, longing & loss, L.L. Barkat demonstrates this once again, explaining how poems such as those featured in the collection came about: “It came mostly of reading others’ poems. Every day. Often multiple poems a day. It was that practice, extended over several years’ time, that had taken my poetry to the next level. And I believe there is no way around it: if you want to be a good poet, you must read excellent poetry.”
One of my roles as Director of Many Things at Tweetspeak is the Poetry Darer. As such, it is my pleasure to officially dare you to read a poem every day during the month of April, in celebration of National Poetry Month. This is a dare is for all of us—even the official Poetry Darer.
National Poetry Month Group Poetry Dare
1. If you don’t already read poetry every day, start with a subscription to Every Day Poems. We carefully choose the poems and pair them with beautiful art.
2. If you do already read a poem a day, we suggest you choose a single poet to read from each day. There’s an excellent list of poetry collections in L.L.’s post, How to Write a Poem (or a Hundred), the very collections in which she was immersed as she wrote many of the poems in Love, Etc.
3. Don’t stop at reading a poem a day, but copy the poem out on paper. See how the words feel in your hand, how their shape alters from the printed page to your notebook.
5. Join us here on Wednesdays during the month. I’ve dared myself to read daily from Wislawa Szymborska and will share thoughts as I go as well as invite you to share your experience in the comments.
If you’re not sure where to begin, and would like a personalized dare for the month, let us know in the comments and we’ll give you a recommendation.
Well? I dare you.
Buy Love, Etc.
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