poetry in life

in honor of national poetry month and seeing as this is the last day of the month (oops!), i thought you should know we’ve been immersed* in poetry this past month. ankle deep people, ankle deep in words and rhythms and images. in my 41 before 41 post i included read more poetry (see no. 20) and i have been dutifully reading more poetry. i subscribed to every day poems and am greeted with a poem in my inbox every morning. i’ve also been getting a poem a day from bentlily.

we’ve listened to auden, tennyson, and yeats. mama listened to some sexton, plath, and pound. the older three kids have had immense fun with jabberwocky (again. it never gets old does it?) and have even tried their hands at writing nonsense poems (i have been forbidden from sharing and i shall remain respectful).

and there you have it. as though our lives weren’t filled with enough poetry of the every day variety, we’ve added more: words, stanzas, meter, verse. and all these things, they’ve helped us appreciate the poetry to be found in our daily lives and rhythms.

do you have a favorite poet? poem?

* the red bean would say we’ve been awash in it, she is a word fiend already.

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  • Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon, Jane Hirshfield, Sharon Olds. I’ve been getting back into reading poetry each morning again. It’s like hanging out with dear old friends. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Hmmm. I LOVE “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Also Emily Dickinson and e. e. cummings.ReplyCancel

  • How wonderful! Sounds like such a good family activity. I love Lord Byron on one end and Langston Hughes on the other end of the spectrum. But I also love some of Poe’s poetry, too.ReplyCancel

  • I adore Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon, their poetry their story, even in all of its sadness. Also, Billy Collins. Always something there for me when I open one of his collections. And many many more! :) ReplyCancel

  • I can’t say I have just one favorite poet, like my taste for food, my poetry reading has changed as I’ve aged. Robert Louis Stevenson, ee cummings, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath ,Edgar Allan Poe, Oliver Wendell Holmes all come to mind right now.ReplyCancel

  • I love Sharon Olds and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mary Oliver, Dorianne Laux. Curious: I’ve had no luck introducing poetry to my oldest (she’s still young, five). Any suggestions?ReplyCancel

    • i think we started with stevenson’s a child’s garden of verse and some shel silverstein, then some more classic poems appropriate to children (charlotte mason is a good resource for quality reading materials…try simplycharlottemason.com or amblesideonline.com), and now have the oxford book of poetry for children.

      hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • oh i love that you are being so intentional with this. i am going to copy you, if you don’t mind. i adore poetry. i keep stacks of poetry books in the bathroom and also stick them on the back of the door. (in the bathroom) matt hangs it everywhere. i have a post in progress actually. will get on that one! i have so many favorites. let me recommend a poetry book for children.

    A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme compiled by Heather Thomas

    I love Frost, esp.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      ivey, i am sure the mr. will be relieved to find out that his wife isn’t the only one with books of poetry on the back of the toilet. he doesn’t complain about the magazines but the poetry confuses him.

      i will see if i can find that book…my kids love poetry.ReplyCancel

  • I am envying that big book of Dickinson…..That is what I was looking for the last time I was out and about. Maybe next time…..ReplyCancel

  • Trees, by Joyce Kilmer. I’ve always loved that one and I like Robert Frost as well. I’ve been out of touch with it lately…maybe this will get me back to it.ReplyCancel

    • melissa, i’m not familiar with trees…will go see if i can find it online. thanks!ReplyCancel

  • I love e.e. cummings. I have a big book of his collected works that I used to carry everywhere with me. It’s all dogeared and underlined. I haven’t pulled it out in a while, maybe it’s time to do that again?ReplyCancel

  • Yes.
    Fiona – she is my poetry in motion :) ReplyCancel

  • I wouldn’t say it’s a favorite, but I’ve always enjoyed revisiting Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
    http://www.bartleby.com/131/1.html (a link to the poem)ReplyCancel

  • Trees is also one of my favorites…..and the road not taken; I’m afraid I haven’t spent nearly enough time with poetry over the years, so my tastes run to the somewhat “commercial” variety—-Poe, Dickinson, Coleridge, Holmes, Stevenson—all those great 101 Lit guys!!! (and women!)
    Love that you’re sharing your love of poetry with the children!ReplyCancel

  • Poetry saves me from myself and my crazy mind.

    Some that I return to again and again are:
    ※ The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
    ※ Love After Love by Derek Walcott
    ※ The Opening of Eyes by David Whyte
    ※ The Guesthouse by Rumi
    ※ The Canvas by Maya Stein (a 10-line Tuesday poem from October 2011)

    I have a short attention span so I find myself drawn to contemporary poetry more than the ‘classics’. That being said, I’m off to look up some of the ones mentioned by other commenters to see if I can add some more to my faves!ReplyCancel

  • i first heard ‘buffalo bill’ read out on the radio years ago, and i had such an emotional reaction to those short lines, i felt compelled to read as much of ee cummings as i could get my hands on.

    carol-anne duffy wrote ‘the world’s wife’ i always recommend it to anyone who feels intimidated by poetry. its rawkusly funny and brilliant.ReplyCancel

  • brandi

    oh, but there are so many!

    emily dickinson, anne sexton, sylvia plath, mary oliver, the beats, e.e. cummings, paul eluard, pablo neruda, t.s. eliot, rumi… recently discovered kim addonizio… loved the rag and bone shop of the heart anthology… and this poem remains a favorite…

    Prayer to the Muse of Ordinary Life, by Kate Daniels

    I seek it in the steamy odor
    of the iron pressing cotton shirts
    in the heat of a summer afternoon,
    in my daughter’s ear, the warm pink
    cone, curling inward. I seek it
    in the dusty circles of the ceiling fan,
    the kitchen counter with its painted shells
    from Hilton Head, the creaking boards
    in the bedroom floor, the coconut
    cookies in the blue glass jar.
    The hard brown knob of nutmeg nestled
    in the silver grater and the lemon
    yogurt that awaits. I seek it not
    in books but in my life inscribed
    in two brief words–– mother, wife
    – the life I live as mistress of an unkempt
    manse, volunteer at firstborn’s
    school, alternate Wednesdays’
    aide at youngest’s nursery, billpayer,
    laundress, cook, shrewd purchaser of mid­-
    priced minivan. I seek it
    in the strophes of a life
    like this, wondering what
    it could be like, its narratives
    drawn from the nursery and playpen,
    its images besmirched with vomitus
    and shit. The prayer I pray is this:

    If you are here,
    where are you?
    If you exist,
    what are you?
    I beg you
    to reveal yourself.
    I will not judge,
    I am not fancy.
    My days are filled
    with wiping noses
    and bathing bottoms,
    with boiling pots
    of cheese-filled pasta
    for toothless mouths
    while reading Rilke,
    weeping.

    My life is broken
    into broken pieces.
    The fabric is rent.
    Daily, I roll
    the stone away
    but all is dark
    inside, unchanged.
    The miracle has not
    happened yet.

    If you are anywhere
    nearby, show me
    anything at all
    to prove you do exist:
    a poem in a small, soiled
    nightie, a lyric
    in the sandbox voices
    raised in woe.

    Release a stanza
    from the sink’s hot suds
    where dirty dishes glow.
    Seal a message inside:
    encourage me
    to hold on.
    Inform me
    in detail
    exactly how to do it.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      brandi…this one is getting printed out and adhered to the fridge with washi tape. it really hits where i am right now (did you suspect it would?). thank you for sharing. and i love that you put the whole damned poem in the comments, treasure for others to discover.

      oh and the beats…i need to remember to tell you about the time i met ginsberg.ReplyCancel

      • brandi

        Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel! – Allen GinsbergReplyCancel

        • admin

          i could not agree more. we’re all holy and mad and full of potential.ReplyCancel

  • brandi

    and this one…

    Prayer For My Children, by Kate Daniels

    I regret nothing.
    My cruelties, my betrayals
    of others I once thought
    I loved. All the unlived
    years, the unwritten
    poems, the wasted nights
    spent weeping and drinking.

    No, I regret nothing
    because what I’ve lived
    has led me here, to this room
    with its marvelous riches,
    its simple wealth—
    these three heads shining
    beneath the Japanese lamp, laboring
    over crayons and paper.
    These three who love me exactly as I am, precisely
    At the center of my ill-built being.
    Who rear up eagerly when I enter,
    and fall down weeping when I leave.
    Whose eyes are my eyes.
    Hair, my hair.
    Whose bodies I cover
    with kisses and blankets.
    Whose first meal was my own body.
    whose last, please God, I will not live
    to serve, or share.ReplyCancel

  • I’ve always loved Dickenson, Yeats, and Matthew Arnold.ReplyCancel

  • My four year old is a word fiend, too. I’m constantly surprised at her expanding vocabulary (and the fact that she uses those big words correctly). She was making rhymes and playing the name game (Sara sara bo bara) before she turned 2, which astounded me. But I guess it’s not so surprising, considering how important words & language are to her parents! :-)

    Most of the poetry we read lately is in children’s anthologies, which has rekindled my love for it. I liked reading poetry in college, and doing that sort of detective work of analyzing every iamb to get at the meaning of it . . . but it did begin to feel a bit esoteric, something that had to be worked at to be appreciated. Reading kids’ poems has reminded me that poetry can be wonderful simply because of the arrangement of the words, they way they feel in your mouth, and stick in your head. One of my current favorites, for that reason, is Margaret Wise Brown’s The Bumblebee: “rumbly tumbly bumbly bee”ReplyCancel

  • My father writes poetry, and I do love his way with words, although they’re a bit dark often.
    Just the other day I found a book I made when I was in school – my friends and I used to make them for each other – with images and poems, sort of a poetry scrap book, and it really made me want to make a new one.ReplyCancel

  • So much good in these suggestions. My favorite poets right now (changes all the time) are Gerald Stern and Steve Scafidi.ReplyCancel

  • [...] notes and drawings washi taped everywhere. :: discovering some new (to me) poets in the comments on this post. we’re still on a poetry bender over here and well, seriously y’all, i’m loving [...]ReplyCancel

  • for days i’ve been forgetting to look it up….finally remembered the poet the girls love that i couldn’t think of Ken Nesbitt….My Hippo Has the Hiccups….we’ve checked it out of the library probably 50 times.

    And of course Shel Silverstein and Jane Yolen.ReplyCancel