You can blame my mother for the excitement that overcomes me during National Poetry Month every April. From the moment I learned to read, she was continually supplying me with the work of Shel Silverstein, paperback copies of Shakespeare’s sonnets and old literature textbooks from the thrift store.
For me poetry has become a spiritual practice, a way to relate to the world, to try and understand what it means to be human, to experience joy, love, heartbreak and grace.
Take these lines from one of my favorite poems, “A Letter to the Playground Bully from Andrea Age 8 ½,” by Andrea Gibson:
so guess what,
if I ever have my own team
I am picking everyone first
even the worst kid
and the kid with the stutter like a skipping record
‘cause I know all of us are scratched,
even if you can’t hear it when we speak.
The poem screams what regular ol’ prose can only whisper – that we know the world isn’t fair but, oh, how we long to change it. Like “the kid with the stutter,” we yearn, we starve to belong.
[bctt tweet=”How can you not want to be moved by everything?”]
Poet Mary Ruefle writes, “When you think about it, poets always want us to be moved by something, until in the end, you begin to suspect a poet is someone who is moved by everything, who just stands in front of the world and weeps and laughs.”
How can you read that and not want to be a poet? How can you not want to be moved by everything?
On the wall by my desk, I’ve tacked a postcard that reads “You are a poet.” It’s a reminder to myself to be just the kind of person Ruefle is talking about: one who notices, one who looks for meaning, one who attempts to say the unsayable.
It’s a reminder that even if I don’t read or write a single line today, I am still a poet in my heart; that life itself is a kind of poetry if I choose to make it so.
[bctt tweet=”I hope you’ll at least learn to see as the poet does—learn to see as God does…”]
So this poetry month, even if you’ve never written a metaphor, never read a villanelle, never had any interest whatsoever in knowing why the caged bird sings, I hope you’ll at least learn to see as the poet does—learn to see as God does—and recognize that every day, everywhere, you, too, can be a poet—if only you choose to be.
Photo by Sarah of the card tacked to her cubicle wall.