Thursday, April 29, 2010

mere air these words, but delicious to hear

It didn't surprise me how many of you don't like poetry. What did surprise me were some comments that led me to believe many of you don't understand exactly what poetry entails. It's okay, though - you can continue to dislike and even hate poetry. Poems like this often made me shudder before I learned how to read them (sometimes they still do).

A Red, Red Rose
Robert Burns

O my Luve 's like a red, red rose
That 's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve 's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune!

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

Great, I'll bet about 98% of you skipped the poem and now you're reading this. That's okay. You can skip most of the poems in here. Poetry is almost always skipped, it seems. Of course, unless, it's in the shape of something we all know and love. Like a song lyric. Yes, song lyrics are a form of poetry. Every time you hear or sing a song playing on the radio, your iPod, you're "getting into poetry." Gasp.

The Long and Winding Road

The long and winding road that leads to your door,
Will never disappear, I've seen that road before
It always leads me here, lead me to your door.

The wild and windy night that the rain washed away,
Has left a pool of tears crying for the day.
Why leave me standing here, let me know the way.

Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried,
Anyway you've always known the many ways I've tried, but
Still they lead me back to the long, winding road,

You left me waiting here a long, long time ago.
Don't leave me standing here, lead me to your door.

If you know what song that is and who wrote it, extra points to you! With my next example, some poetry reads just like prose. Heaney is one of my favorite poets.

Death Of A Naturalist
Seamus Heaney

(line breaks removed)

All year the flax-dam festered in the heart of the townland; green and heavy headed flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods. Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun. Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell. There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies, but best of all was the warm thick slobber of frogspawn that grew like clotted water in the shade of the banks. Here, every spring I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied specks to range on window-sills at home, on shelves at school, and wait and watch until the fattening dots burst into nimble-swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how the daddy frog was called a bullfrog and how he croaked and how the mammy frog laid hundreds of little eggs and this was frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too for they were yellow in the sun and brown in rain. Then one hot day when fields were rank with cowdung in the grass thea angry frogs invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges to a coarse croaking that I had not heard before. The air was thick with a bass chorus. Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked on sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped: the slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting. I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings were gathered there for vengeance and I knew that if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.

An interesting exercise is to try and put the line breaks back in yourself without looking at the original. The paragraph above reads beautifully as prose, but as a poem, it's about 10 times more powerful. Why? Line breaks emphasize timing, the weight of specific words, rhythm, etc. That's half the magic.

In fact, I could write a very interesting short story about what happens in Heaney's poem above. He gives enough detail and personality that my imagination runs wild.

Definition: Poetry is an imaginative awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices so as to evoke an emotional response. Poetry has been known to employ meter and rhyme, but this is by no means necessary. Poetry is an ancient form that has gone through numerous and drastic reinvention over time. The very nature of poetry as an authentic and individual mode of expression makes it nearly impossible to define. (thank you,

Well, we won't attempt to define poetry today. Let's just enjoy it. Who wouldn't like this poem by my professor in college? He first instilled in me what magic a poem can really create - and that poetry does not have to be boring and dry.

More Than Ashes to Ashes, Not Just Dust to Dust
Rob Carney

In the Old Songs about Washington, if a fisherman drowned
and his body wasn’t found, it brought bad luck;
the salmon vanished too, and all the seals.

Even the deer smelled the badness
and scattered past the ends of the wind.
Even the wind would be creeping, flat-bellied, afraid.

‘Til they’d send for the Sculptor—a woman as beautiful,
secret as the mountains. She’d come from the mountains
to dig in the creekside clay,

to restore with Her fingers,
shaping the fisherman’s figure, the man’s lost face.
And in the Old Songs, this was good:

the people had something to bury now
in the hole She’d opened by the stream;
his spirit could live there, spearing the spirits of fish.

And there would be living fish too . . .
and the rocks alive with barking seals . . .
and they’d thank the Sculptor by shaping Her into a song.

The thing about poetry is this: it is fluid, and it can change and shape to whatever you want it to be. It doesn't have to be boring or stiff or rhyme or whatever. In fact, if you read and study and write poetry, it will most likely improve your prose. I know it has improved mine.

I went to a conference this past Saturday. One of the classes was about description and how to write it better. One of the last things the presenter talked about was poetry and how reading it will help you focus on the right details in your prose. Poetry forces you to narrow your focus. Poetry hones your ability to grab an audience.

I think one of the best examples I have found of poetry in prose is Marilynne Robinson. She spectacularly weaves her language, her prose, her stories, into what feels like one long, beautiful poem. But, it is still entertaining, still engaging, still cohesive enough to be called a novel. Here's an example of a paragraph I've taken from her novel, Housekeeping. I've put in line breaks because, well, I want to show you how prose can contain poetic elements.

In a month she would not mourn,
because in that season it had never seemed
to her that they were married,
she and the silent Methodist Edmund
who wore a necktie and suspenders even to hunt
wildflowers, and who remembered
just where they grew from year to year, and
who dipped his handkerchief in a puddle
to wrap the stems, and who put out his elbow
to help her over the steep and stony places
with a wordless and impersonal courtesy she did
not resent because had never really
wished to marry anyone.

She sometimes imagined a rather dark man
with crude stripes painted on his face
and a sunken belly,
and a hide fastened around his loins, and bones
dangling from his ears, and clay
and claws
and fangs and bones
and feathers and sinews
and hide ornamenting his arms
and waist and throat,
his whole body a boast that he was more alarming
than all the death whose trophies he wore.

Now, I don't know about you, but if you can create a character description that reads like poetry, you know what you're doing. Scott left a good comment on Tuesday about poetry:

I am a bad reader of poetry and I don't have much of an understanding of it. That said, it's still important to me because there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from reading good poetry: the weight of words, the flow of vowel sounds and the rhythms of consonants, the difference between starting or ending a sentence with a vowel or a consonant, the uses and misuses of internal rhyme and assonance and the way some words are the right words purely because of the way they sound between two other words in the middle of a sentence. Shakespeare has also obviously had a big influence on me.

I think that even though Scott thinks he's a bad reader of poetry, he understands it more than he's giving credit for. The technical details of poetry are splendid and complex and often scare writers away from the form, but poetry is not all about the technical. In How To Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, Edward Hirsch quotes Paul Celan:

A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the - not always greatly hopeful - belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense, too, are under way: they are making toward something.

The problem is that I can't make anyone pick up the message in the bottle, let alone love or read poetry or incorporate it into their writing. Still, I can guarantee that you are surrounded by poetry whether you're willing to see it or not. I'll leave you with a great comment by Marissa Graff and Martina Boone from the Adventures in Children's Publishing blog (I have no idea which one of you wrote this...)

For what it's worth, I think there's poetry in any great piece of literature. Good writers have a a natural sense of rhythm and listen to the sound of their words, but beyond that they also weave in imagery and sensory details that are poetic in their ability to speak directly to the reader. We improve as writers by reading great literature, and I do think reading great poetry makes us even stronger.

Here are some fellow bloggers (the list is by no means comprehensive, and I know I've missed a bunch of you), bless their hearts, who love and/or write poetry as I do. If you do, too, and you haven't spoken up, please do. I'm just waiting to discover you.

Judith Mercado
Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
Rick Daley
L.T. Host
Taryn Tyler
Adventures in Children's Publishing
Simon C. Larter
K. Hinny
Jamie D.
L.T. Elliot
Tess Hilmo
Anne R. Allen
Stephanie McGee

credits: a red, red rose by robert burns on wikipedia, the long and winding road by the beatles found on the beatles lyrics archive, definition of poetry found on, more than ashes to ashes, not dust to dust by rob carney found on verse daily, death of a naturalist by seamus heaney found on famous poets and, housekeeping by marilynne robinson published by farrar, straus, and giroux, new york, 1980


  1. When I first started writing, I only wrote poetry. Not because I thought it was easy, but because that's what my high school English teacher made me do first, and it stuck. :)

    I took classes in college that examined various aspects of poetry and interpreting meanings. It's so difficult to write because you need to make the words work really hard - to convey a strong and vivid meaning/image in such a short time. Picture books are difficult to write for this same reason. So I totally agree with you that reading and understanding poetry will help your prose in many ways.

    I still write poetry, but it has become extremely personal over the years...and I'm shy. :)

  2. I love poetry. It is always so enriched with very little words. I only wish I could write it better. =)

  3. Thanks for the mention :)

    Fantastic, beautiful examples. I'm glad you brought it up again because I was just thinking on the way home the other night about how I meant to mention song lyrics as poetry. It is the poetry that touches me the most often. My favorite song-as-poetry is What Sarah Said by Death Cab For Cutie:

    And it came to me then that every plan
    Is a tiny prayer to father time
    As I stared at my shoes in the ICU
    That reeked of piss and 409
    And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself
    That I’ve already taken too much today
    As each descending peak on the LCD
    Took you a little farther away from me
    Away from me

    Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines
    In a place where we only say goodbye
    It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend
    On a faulty camera in our minds
    And I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose
    Than to have never lain beside at all
    And I looked around at all the eyes on the ground
    As the TV entertained itself

    ‘Cause there’s no comfort in the waiting room
    Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
    And then the nurse comes ‘round and everyone lift their heads
    But I’m thinking of what Sarah said
    That love is watching someone die

    So who’s gonna watch you die? So who's gonna watch you die

    (Copy-pasted from a lyrics sit so I take no responsibility for typos). Makes me bawl with beauty and sadness every time I listen to it.

  4. I was the poetry editor for a website for a year or two a while back. I used to think I disliked poetry, but in high school I got pretty good at interpreting it. (No good at writing anything with meter or rhyme still.)

    Your Beatles example reminded me of their contemporaries Simon & Garfunkel, specifically "Richard Cory," a song-poem based on a song.

    (Good meeting you this weekend!)

  5. Christine: Thank you!

    Tabitha: That is incredible, to me, that you loved poetry despite your teacher making you write it. Most people get turned off by that!

    I've never thought of picture books as having to work hard like that, but you're right.

    And yes, most of my poetry is very personal, as well.

    Carolyn: Yay! Wow, there's more people here than I thought would love poetry. So wonderful! Keep writing it and you'll get better, promise. I'll bet you're good already.

    Meghan: I don't think I knew that about you...!

    L.T.: Okay, that poem made me cry. Thanks a lot! I don't think I've heard the song, so I'll need to go look it up on iTunes. Thanks!

    Jordan: It was great to meet you, too! I think I might have pegged you as a poetry person - you have that lovely poetical air about you.

    I love Simon & Garfunkel, probably even more than the Beatles.

  6. You're welcome! Death Cab For Cutie is one of my favorite bands so I'm always glad to share gems of theirs with other people.

    Simon and Garfunkel... so funny they got brought up, I'm listening to them now. Think I might walk down the aisle to Bridge Over Troubled Water.

  7. This is a great post, Lady, very comprehensive, and I like the juxtaposition of writing styles with the examples you've chosen. On the web I used to write about the lack of poetry reading I see today being bad for the general "state of writing."

    I've always loved poetry; I wish I could write it. The rhyming old-fashioned-sounding kind has always been my favorite (I'm a snob in this one way sometimes), but I've branched out over the years. I do still prefer nonrhyming being saved for poetic prose, like the type you write, rather than reading nonrhyming poetry in poem form. To me, rhyming is somehow part of poetry's meter. Once that's pulled out, meter's harder to "feel." But this may be because I've read so much rhyming poetry. I don't know if most of today's poets have spent time reading the old-fashioned poets; the modern ones seem to mostly read each other's works.

    On a sunny-day date once in Washington Square Park, me and my date were sitting down just being quiet together, and a homeless man walked up to us and spent over half an hour passionately reciting Shakespeare's sonnets. My date had brought me a red rose. We both sat there quite stunned, me with my rose and my smiling mouth open, him with his mouth open too and his eyes on the man almost the whole time. I'd read Shakespeare's sonnets before, and as far as I could tell, the man didn't miss a single word.

    Thanks for writing this post. It reminded me of that great moment in my life.

  8. Thanks for the mention!

    Great post and great examples.

    Have you read ORDINARY GENIUS by Kim Addonizio? It's a fabulous book on reading and writing poetry. After years of resisting and not "getting" poetry, this book made me fall in love with it all over again.

  9. Thank you, Michelle, for giving me another reason to love Marilynne Robinson. I hold her as my current model of the author I'd like to be. You've just added to my pleasure. Thanks also for the link.

  10. Great examples, Michelle. And the poem you posted before was lovely.

    I totally agree about great literature containing poetry. What you did with Housekeeping, you could do with so many great books--The God of Small Things comes instantly to mind. And even something like Oscar Wao would yield some pretty compelling poetry.

    I don't like a lot of poetry, but what I like I adore. I'm especially drawn to Sylvia Plath and her work, and so of course I fell for Ted Hughes' "Birthday Letters" pretty hard. I also really like Sharon Olds. Her poem, "I Go Back to May 1937" is a particular favorite.

    I've written a little poetry, but primarily I use it when I am stuck with something else I am writing-if I can't say something the way I want and it's just not coming out right, I pick up a pencil and paper and write it in poem form. There's usually something in there that can be used in the larger piece, even if it's just a few words.

  11. I just ordered "Beauty Breaks In," a new collection by Mary Ann Samyn, whose poetry everyone should read. It's really startling and amazing.

  12. I love poetry. I don't write as much of it anymore but do dabble here and there. I've put some on my blog. I've always loved 'The Long and Winding Road'. There something almost hauntingly beautiful about it, especially if Sir Paul lends his voice. ;)

  13. L.T.: I remember getting a free song from iTunes when Death Cab was brand new, and I loved that song! I've sense lost it and can't remember what it was, but it looks like I need to rediscover them.

    FP: What a beautiful moment! I must confess that on my first blind date with my husband (then, just a cute stranger), he recited lines from Shakespeare, and I was completely sold!

    I love formal poetry, too. I've written several formal poems, one of my favorites:

    To See Them This Way After Parties, Before Dusk

    I remember the emptied tables,
    my mother clearing dishes, her wrists
    like white china, but soft when she stopped
    at the pluck of violins, cellos,
    my father breaking light with shadow,
    stiff buttons loose like his soft breathing—

    This is the way light slanted, breathing
    itself from wine glasses on tables,
    and my mother’s hair like spilled shadow
    when it is calm, like her fluid wrists
    as they danced with china and cellos.
    I had never seen them this way, stopped

    between straight chairs: they were the closure
    of myself at that moment—breathing
    them in as my heart discerned music
    from dancing amidst emptied tables.
    I longed to break their form with my wrists—
    wedge my way between their firm shadow

    to say “May I cut in?”—my shadow
    thin as paper between them, stopping
    them from movement. My mother’s soft wrists
    dropping like birds that have ceased breathing,
    my father’s hands dropped to a table.
    All is silent except for strings

    and my mother curved like a cello
    or a wine glass over my shadow,
    whispering with her warm lips, stopping
    my request to stay up near tables
    and wine and dancing—to know her wrists
    when they entwine like vines that breathe

    in the slanting sun. My own breathing
    is quiet when I turn from cellos
    and sunlight and wine, my mother’s hands
    nudging me from my father’s shadow
    and through the dining room, past tables
    where she kisses my forehead and stops

    near a table, her wrists closed, quiet
    as stilled strings when she breathes goodnight
    and sends me to the shadows of sleep.


    I'm sure the line breaks are all messed up in that. Here's the test! Can you tell me what kind of formal poem it is?

    Gabi: I haven't read ORDINARY GENIUS, but it sounds fantastic! Thank you for mentioning it.

    Judith: Isn't she just absolutely wonderful? I read her and it's like I'm transported. Sigh. She's one of the first authors I read that made me fall in love with "slow" writing, if that makes any sense at all.

    Jennifer: Oh, yes, I could transform many of favorite prose pieces into poetry, but I'm not sure if that's a kosher thing to do? Hmmm. I thought it illustrated a good point here.

    Sylvia Plath is one of my favorites, as well as Sharon Olds. You have great taste!

    Scott: Thank you for the suggestion, Scott! I love discovering new poets, and I will check that one out.

    Lisa: I will have to check out the poetry on your blog! Thank you for letting me know. :)

  14. I love poetry too. I remember as a 13 year old falling in love with Tennyson's Ulysses. As a child growing up and later as a teenager, I always felt more comfortable writing in verse. (My mother thought I was too lazy to write prose- but now understands..:)).. However, I have had almost the opposite trajectory in that I have realized how writing prose has helped me write better poetry. Especially because I have found that I enjoy reading the kind of poetry that is more an isolation of thought or moment rather than an 'ode to' anything (along the lines of some of Rae Armantrout's poems).For me (just like you mentioned)- the lines separating poetry and prose are very blurry (and I am not referring to overwritten purple prose).

    And I love finding bits of poetry in a lot of prose- the bits that make you go 'aah' and leave traces of an ache.

    That piece by Heaney is gorgeous, btw. Enjoyed your post!


  15. FP: The line breaks turned out fine in the poem I shared, but alas, I just realized I didn't do part of that formal poem the way it's supposed to be done. Oh, well. Creative license. Hmmm. Still, the structure is correct!

    Lavanya: Sometimes I think verse is easier to write - to feel led and contained by a form that helps you along, if that makes sense. Hehe about your mom thinking you were too lazy to write prose!

    Isn't Heaney wonderful? One of my other favorite poems of his is "The Skunk"

  16. I thought you knew that I love poetry. I haven't been writing a lot of it lately because I'm working on the prose thing, but I'm thinking I should quit trying to separate them and write poetic prose. Maybe then I'd be able to make this book thing work. I love Seamus Heany. I also love Billy Collins. I had a poetry class in college with Leslie Norris that I loved.

  17. Thanks for the mention. And thanks for promoting the poetry cause! Brilliant restructuring of Marilynne Robinson's prose.

    Very clever to include Sir Paul's lyrics. I think most of us love some kind of poetry without knowing it. All the great singer-songwriters write poetry: Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen... hmmm: just realized those are all Canadians. But even some Yanks do. There's this old dude named Bob Dylan...and yes, Paul Simon. Glad so many people are still moved by his work.

  18. Lady Glamis- Yes, that makes sense (about the form helping/leading).however, i think that this aspect is the biggest trap that the form offers and that is where I think writing prose has helped me (if that makes any sense..:)). I haven't read "The Skunk' - will check it out-thanks!


  19. Lady Glamis,
    I'm piggybacking off of Lois's comment here. I love to see poetic language in novels. When I was reading The Human Stain by Philip Roth, I felt as if the words were singing on the page. Very poetic all the way through.

  20. This reminds me of the scene in the film version of Pink Floyd- The Wall, where young Pink is in school writing in his notebook. The teacher walks up behind him and yanks the book away.

    "What's this then?" the teacher asks, as he reads the page*. "Oh! poetry, everyone. The laddie reckons himself a poet.

    "Money get back
    I'm all right, Jack
    Keep your hand off my stack.

    "New car, caviar, four-star day dream
    Think I'll buy me a football team.

    "Absolute rubbish. Get on with your work!" Then the teacher raps him across the knuckles with a yardstick (or similar implement).

    *The poem is a excerpt of the lyrics for the song "Money."

  21. Nope--I can't name it! I can count the line syllables and see the repetition, but I don't know the answer. I didn't mean I'm an expert on poetry; no way am I that. I'm just a reader of poetry. I feel it more than I think about it.

  22. Lois: I forgot that you love poetry, and that you write it! You haven't shared any for awhile. Poetic prose is fun, although draining and sometimes difficult and impossible. I'm jealous that you had a class with Leslie Norris! I got to meet him once at UVU, but never had a class!

    Anne: Great Canadian names, hehe! Yes, I think many people loves forms of poetry and don't realize it. That makes me happy that it's appreciated on different levels.

    Lavanya: Yes, that makes sense. I hope you enjoy the poem!

    Crimey: Yes, oftentimes it is the poetry in a novel's prose that draws me in the most. Both Davin and Scott do it in their prose, whether they see it or not. :)

    Rick: Hah, great example! I love that song.

    FP: Oh, it was just for fun! I would be surprised if anyone got it. If I had to pick out specific forms, I wouldn't know most of them. I'm no expert, either, by any means. It's a sestina, but without the iambic pentameter.

    Sestina: a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (called its envoy or tornada), for a total of thirty-nine lines. The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time (wikipedia).

    Wayyy fun to write! Although a bit mind boggling. This is the only one I've written.

  23. Great examples! I love how you totally caught those of us who skipped the first poem ... I did that very thing, after reading the first verse! But, after you called me on it, I went back and re-read it! :-)

  24. Wonderful examples in this post! I like how you point out that song lyrics are often indistinguishable from poetry. I agree, but I had a professor once who didn't. (I guess he can be right too... it's awfully subjective.) He said that lyrics are designed to interact with a melody, so it changes when the words and music are separated. Poetry must create its own music, unaccompanied.

    OK, true. But I still think some lyrics hold their own with or without their accompaniments. I had an assignment to write a "nonsense poem," so I did. My prof read it and got this horrified look on his face and kept saying, "But what is this ABOUT? What's going on here?" I think he was a bit disturbed at some of the dark imagery and possibly wanted to know if I was mentally OK. I told him I was trying to create a very clear mood with very unclear subject matter, like in some Tori Amos songs. He didn't like it at all, but I think that based on his reaction I accomplished what I had intended to to.

    Anyway, I couldn't agree more that learning to appreciate and write poetry is a good exercise for prose writers, and vice versa. Among other things, both help us avoid the cliches that tend to develop in a particular writing form and keep it fresh and intentional.

  25. Hahaa! Whee! Robert Burns? Nicely chosen, good lady. But how'd I make the list of people who know and enjoy poetry? While I enjoy it, I sure don't know it. I need to pick up that "How to read poetry" book, methinks.

    Consonance and assonance are my friends, though. We loves them, precious. We uses them in our prose ever chance we gets. :)

  26. Bravo on pointing out the lyrical poetry of songs. I think since my deafness I've had a greater appreciation for poetry; instead of hearing, I read the prose.

    I do think narrative poetry is easier to follow than meter (poetry). Take Edgar Allen Poe's the Raven for example and the popularity of that piece. Sadly he was misunderstood in his time.

    I think as writers, we owe it to ourselves to cross over into styles we don't often read or in the case of poetry - understand. (Hugs)Indigo

  27. Thanks for this lovely post. You introduced me to so many beautiful words. I agree that reading poetry can only strengthen our writing. Poetry's great at packing an emotional punch, and that's what we strive to do in our prose. My favorite books have prose that lend itself to poetry. :)

  28. Kelly: Hah! I skip that poem these days because I have it memorized. If people skipped it for that reason, I think that's great. Hehe. Glad you re-read it!

    Genie: I can see the other side of they lyric argument. Totally. Now I want to read that poem you wrote! Sounds like a great experiment and that it worked. I love it when writing can elicit such a strong response.

    Simon: That how to read poetry book is incredible, if just for the glossary of poetry terms in the bag. It's awesome!

    Indigo: Oh, wow, yeah, take away sound and I'll bet poetry really opens up! Thank you for sharing that.

    Krispy: My favorite books do that, too, and so does some of my favorite writing that I've done.

  29. Great post, love teaching poetry to kids, they tend to like the humorous (like Pam Ayers) or the storytelling kind (like Banjo Patterson).

  30. Charmaine: I like the humorous ones, too. Hehe. Some of the most creative poetry I've seen comes from children. They really are in touch with their creative sides!

  31. Eh, hate to say it, but I'm not a big poetry person. :)

    BUT I like some of it :) I've posted a poem a good friend of mine wrote about 10 years ago... it's probably one of my favorites and it also lines up with the poetry can be fun idea :)

  32. I love the line breaks you put into Robinson. My favorites were "hunt/wildflowers" (what a surprise!) and the breaks between the claws and fangs and bones and sinews, etc. I also loved what you chose for the last line of the first stanza. Another great surprise. She ought to rewrite Housekeeping as a huge poem and publish it!

    Loved this post. Thanks for being a champion of poetry!

  33. Kari: Thank you for that link! I'll have to check it out. :)

    Missy: I know! Her work lends itself so well to poetry - all I had to do was crack the book open to a random spot and choose a passage. Great to see you here!

  34. I wrote me some baaaad poetry in high school and decided to spare the earth my efforts, but I retain a love for verse.

    I teach it to 2nd graders. The good stuff. Frost, cummings, Millay, Sara Teasdale (she is ALWAYS their favorite every single year), and a little Ogden Nash for humor. My personal fave (and not 7-yo appropriate) is Neruda. Wow his poems were just awash with energy and very romantic images.

    I leave you with:
    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

    Write, for example,'The night is shattered
    and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

    The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

    Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
    I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

    She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
    How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

    To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
    And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

    What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
    The night is shattered and she is not with me.

    This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
    My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

    My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
    My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

    The same night whitening the same trees.
    We, of that time, are no longer the same.

    I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
    My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

    Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
    Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

    I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
    Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

    Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
    my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

    Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
    and these the last verses that I write for her.

  35. Lora: Thank you for sharing that. I love "her bright body." :)

    I've written some very bad poetry in my past. It happens. :)

  36. great post. i don't write poetry but i know some great poets and love reading it. imo, it is a great excercise in images/details even for us fiction writers!

  37. Jennifer: I count poetry as a type of fiction, most of the time, although I do pull more from my real life for poetry than I do my prose. Thanks for stopping by!

  38. Beautiful post. Poetry is the heart of language that makes all other writing possible. Without it there is no meaning to things like rhythm, cadence and diction.

    Well said Michelle!

  39. Matthew: Thanks for coming by to read this post!


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