Why Poetry?

I feel a giddiness -- a buzzy electrical current running through my body as I sit down to write this piece, which I've been wanting to write for a while, about why poetry is the thread that runs through all WTG Circles. 

"To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment."
~Galway Kinnell

In a WTG Circle, free-flow writing is the method we use to drop into our messy, beautiful lives and befriend ourselves, just as we are -- and feel the moment, just as it is. And why we begin every WTG Circle with a poem is because its the poets who show us the way! They are our guides for embracing and experiencing ALL the notes of being human -- 
(-- and now tears well up -- it feels like reverence... interesting -- how powerful this emotion feels in this moment...)

...reverence mixed with that buzzy excitement, because when I share a poem in a WTG Circle, it feels like I'm sharing a gem, a treasure, a gold nugget -- and this sharing gives me a kind of "high." 

"Poetry has an interesting function. 
It helps people be where they are."

~Gary Snyder
"A good poem can set a listener adrift on a small raft
under a vast night sky of stars."

~Jane Hirschfield

 I've collected poems for years and they come in all flavors: quiet, shocking, hilarious, heartbreaking, surprising, sobering, sweet... 

But the one thing a poem MUST be, for me, is accessible. It must speak to me in a direct and visceral way. 

"I see woefully obscure poetry as simply
a kind of verbal rudeness."

~Billy Collins (one of my FAVORITE poets)

I organize my gorgeous and accessible poem collection in a folder on my computer named 30 Themes. A theme is any topic I want to explore more deeply in my life, my writing, and/or a WTG Circle.

Examples of themes are paying attention, joy & pain, mystery, listening, stillness, autumn... And when I find a poem I love, I give it a home in one or more of my folders. 

I didn't always love poetry. You, too?

And maybe you don't yet know that you love poetry. 

I'm not sure I felt the power of poetry until one gray and windy January day in Vegas. It was in 2012 and I remember standing by my bookcase, reading Mary Oliver's 'The Summer Day.' 

This poem spoke to my 2 particular pain points at that time in my life: busyness/distraction and boredom/lack of passion.

This line brought clarity to my longing to slow down and be more present: 

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel in the grass, how to be idle and blessed...

And this line nudged me to end my 16-year children's publishing career that very day:

Tell, me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I literally moved the dozens of children's books I wrote and hundreds of children's books I'd collected for years into my son's closet. Armful after armful, until I had an empty bookcase and the courage to discover a new career love affair.

I'll leave you with one more poet's thoughts on poetry: 

"In its origin, a poem is something completely unequivocal. It is a discharge, a call, a cry, a sigh, a gesture, a reaction by which the living soul seeks to defend itself from or to become aware of an emotion, an experience. In this first spontaneous most important function no poem can be judged. It speaks first of all simply to the poet himself, it is his cry, his scream, his dream, his smile, his whirling fists."
~Carl Sandburg

What's your relationship to poetry these days? Which poets speak to you and your life? Has a poem every changed your perspective, your beliefs, your life in a memorable way? Do you crave more truth & beauty in your life in the form of poetry? 

With love,

Want to write?
Take a pen & prompt journey:

writing prompt

Poetry and me

Grab a pen & notebook. Write the prompt at the top of the page.
Set a timer for 10 minutes. Or 5. Or 2!

Write whatever arises in your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Don’t stop to think or edit - keep your pen moving.

Accept ALL that you write - the pretty & ugly; absurd & boring.
Discover what wants to be felt, known, expressed, released...