April is National Poetry Month and as a poet I feel obligated to “lay down a few lines” for the general public. Twelve to fifteen lines of well-thought-out inspiration can encourage, stimulate and motivate both poetry lovers and the poetic snub. Community, culture, religion, politics and nature inspires the most renowned poets. Ordinary days, things and people can provoke whirling emotions, suppressed feelings, exceptional joy or a wealth of well-being. Paul Muldoon, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize put it best when he said, “it’s just about allowing a poem to come from wherever it comes from and getting it into the world.” I concur.
National Poetry Month, founded by The Academy of American’s Poets in 1996 to increase appreciation of the written word in a metaphorical format crosses geographical, cultural, educational and political lines. From“poem in your pocket”, to contests, presentations, and poetry as part of our congressional record, the meter, rhythm and rhyme of human language is alive and well. A definition Poetry. org pulled from Wikipedia says it beautifully: “it may use condensed or compressed form to convey emotion or ideas to the reader’s or listener’s mind or ear.” Whether poem, prose, lyric or spoken word – beauty is found in this harnessing of words, engulfed in the fervor of philosophies, views, beliefs and relationships. Even poetry snubs appreciate a well-written lyric or the rawness of the spoken word.
Educators often stifle the appreciation of poetry by assessing meanings outlined in manuals and guidebooks. “Where your head’s at” should determine how you interpret a poem. Studying the great poets in high school and college, I never agreed with the “understood” or optimal meanings or denotations. I was a dreamer, blithe and carefree. I loved the methodology of selecting perfect words and flawlessly placing them to deliver a message - void dangling participles, conjunctions and prepositional phrases. Poems inspire a variety of feelings with varying messages - and well they should. Aphorisms suggest monologues and oratory fail the poetic test; I disagree. Stories, tales, religious readings, nursery rhymes, lullabies and quotes all spring from the precise and highly formalized motif of poetry. So, brew a cup of earl grey tea, find the perfect lounge chair and read a poem. You’ll be glad you did.
In the early hours of the morning
I cast a line against a rising sun
caught by the waves pulled down
I relish in the splendor
of the dawn
Surrounded by his
wonder and amazement
his closeness is a breeze
against my cheek
as small waves weave my line
within his rhythms
I savor in the
secrets that he keeps
In the fading hours of the evening
I cast a line against a setting sun
I search for peace and quiet
I fish in times of war
for days of calm
Shirley Howard Hall is a Freelance Writer, Author, Poet and Speaker in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma