Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy National Poetry Month

Here we are again.  It is that month of the year that someone decided to celebrate poetry.  I remember last year this time hoping to inspire others to give poetry a chance and shared a few poems that helped me through a rough time or two.  I also remember Angela Morrison's class at the ANWA conference last year and how a free verse poem had given more power to the prose we were writing.  The interesting thing was that at the conference this year Dr. James Blasingame gave a class on "voice" and he also discussed poetry briefly.  You might not be willing or think you are able to write a limerick or haiku or meet the rigorous standards of iambic pentameter, but if you talk, you speak poetry more often than you think.  The way we structure our phrases and sentences or chose to use just one word in a certain instance create a rhythm in the way we talk.  He used an example out of the book The Outsiders that showed the poetry in a simple conversation between teenagers.  

 I have admitted that I love poetry, but now I am going to be completely honest.  I do not like all poetry and there are some poets I cannot stand to read.  When I was first introduced to something other than Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss, I had a horrible reaction to what I read.  It took me a while to read through different poets and actually try to write some poems before I learned to love it.  It has taken many years for me to understand that often things are written for the person who wrote it not an audience. Those poems whether or not I like them give me another way of seeing things, a glimpse through someone else's eyes and that brings me closer to understanding others.  We all have different life experiences and view points and we all react to life differently.  How much easier it is to build a connection with others despite our differences if we can see at least a little through their eyes. 

I wrote a poem for my Dad many years ago,

It was a black, windy night
   And so she slept kinda light
      The wind howled with the trees
          And sang his scary song
             The grandfather clock in the living room
          Replied with a deep
       BONG Bong bong
    Unable to bear it any longer alone
 She got up swiftly on her own
   Her footed pajamas scraped softly on the floor
The hinges screeched as she pushed on the door
   "Daddy?" a little voice called 
       There came no reply
    But the low, comforting rumble
       Of a deeply sleeping snore
            At last unafraid 
                First sank the pink blanket
                   And then the little girl
                       Curled up on the floor
                           To rest for the night 
                               In  a puddle of soft, silver
I was terrified of the dark as a child.  This scene replayed over and over when I was little.  I vividly remember all of those things.  Being from Wyoming, the wind is a constant thing, but at night it can be pretty scary.  I can remember how bad the fear had to be- the physical pressure in my chest to make me get out of bed and dare the dark hallway to my parents room but all it took to erase the fear was my dad's snore.  When I wrote this poem, I just wrote those memories and feelings, I didn't even really know about rhythm and rhyming so it is off in places but I think you can feel the transition from the fear to the peace by the end in that lovely puddle of moonlight which by the way really did exist- at least in my memory.  
Add a few years and some life experiences and I managed this to explain how I feel about nightfall and night as an adult thanks to a loving earthly father and a loving Heavenly Father.

Velvet dark swirls imperceptibly 
Spinning deeper quietly
First begins a violet glow
The silent blackness starts to grow
Haloed with a golden band
As the sun draws back its hand
Sprinkled tiny points of light
Soften the inky black of night
As in a magic flower bed
Light blossoms  sprout and sparkling spread
Growing beyond the human world
The universe itself unfurled
Laid out in quiet majesty
A glimpse into eternity

Not the emotional tug of the previous poem and probably not that great of a poem, but I think you can see that I have a different perspective on night now.  I am not afraid.  My dads did a great job of showing me different ways to see it. You don't have to like my poems.  I am probably not that good of a poet, but since there are some acclaimed poets that I don't like, I can't really be sure.  I know what poetry means to me and what it has done to help me deal with life and how it has helped my writing and that is why I hope others will take advantage of a month long celebration of poetry.   Even if you don't want to attempt writing it yourself, find some to read, if you don't like them, try others, but give it a try- a poem a day for the rest of April- then see if you can see things differently, too.  Enjoy!

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