In Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, professor and poet Marilyn McEntyre notes where many poems come from – in the midst of doing something else, “usually something quite unpoetic – making dinner, looking for a parking place or keys or glasses. They come as gifts – little phrases or images that flutter into awareness and distract it from its linear progress toward some more pedestrian objective.”
In my own experience, I’ve had poetic images and ideas for poems, and sometimes whole poems themselves, arrive unbidden in the middle of a meeting at work, driving to the airport, waiting for a movie or concert to begin, changing a diaper, heading back roses in the garden, and changing a light bulb. Some call it the poetry of the daily.
I like to think of it as Poetry for Life.
It’s why I make sure I have a pen and something to write on wherever I go. Whatever I am doing. It’s how I discovered poetry in the workplace and wrote a small book about it.
We can be more strategic. In “The Capitalistic Quandary of Poetry” at Huffington Post Books, L.L. Barkat (Tweetspeak Poetry’s editor) suggests five practical ways to increase access to poetry, to recognize that poetry is actually happening all around us, and that we can apply it to virtually every situation in life. One of those ways is to “bring it home.”
For the second year in a row, if you live in the Seattle area, you can do precisely that. And you don’t need a lecture hall or auditorium.
The Seattle Arts and Lecture Poetry Series, with Crab Creek Review, allows you in effect to take a poet home with you – at least for an evening or day with friends. In its second year, the program sponsors a poet coming to your book group or gathering of friends to read poetry and talk about writing and publishing.
The poets are all Seattle-based, so no travel expenses are involved. While they may not have the celebrity of a Billy Collins, remember that at one time Billy Collins didn’t have any celebrity, either. Nor did Maya Angelou. Or Seamus Heaney.
Fine poetry doesn’t need celebrity to be written, heard, experienced, and cherished. And fine poetry can be found in life, those daily things we do and experience that collectively add up to our existence.
We like this idea of poetry for life so much that we will be publishing articles about in the upcoming weeks and months. Teaching poetry like it’s alive. Bringing poetry home. Transporting it (like all those books by British poets I carted home from London in my suitcase, worried the whole flight back that someone in luggage might have lifted them) (loving poetry can often make you think ridiculous things). Paint poetry in the public square, including the virtual public square. And taking poetry to work, or finding it there. (I took a bunch of poets to work with me for Take Your Poet to Work Day in July and posted the photo on Facebook. People at work made comments, but I figured that was their problem.)
So join with us in finding poetry for life. Leave a comment. Submit a story that fits those five categories. Tell us your story of poetry for life.
All you have to do is look around you.
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- An Epic Told in 500 Sonnets: “The Gift of Life” by Amanda Hall - April 6, 2021
- A Novel About Hughes and Plath: “Your Story, My Story” by Connie Palmen - March 30, 2021
- Poets and Poems: Osip Mandelstam and “Poems” - March 23, 2021