“Let me not the marriage of true minds admit impediments… “ –William Shakespeare
“Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me…” – Emily Dickinson
“Two roads diverged in the yellow woods…” – Robert Frost
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)…” – e.e. cummings
Truth: March is NOT National Poetry month. (It’s April.)
Truth: I am not sorry for catching your attention, so listen up…POETRY can save your life! Your aesthetic life, that is.
If you are not already a self-defined poet or poetry lover, allow me a few moments to persuade you to feel otherwise. Poetry is an incomparable expression of the heart through words. Whether you are a seasoned poetry aficionado or a closet wanna-be, here a few tips for claiming one of history’s favorite pastimes for your own story.
- Start reading. Go to the library stacks or Friends of Library book sale, discover a local used bookstore, commandeer the aisle in Barnes and Noble, go online in the comfort of a coffee shop or your own room and just READ different poems. Immerse yourself in the great tradition.
- Once you’ve become familiar with different styles, you can decide if you prefer free-verse, rhyme, sonnets, long, short, wordy, simple, etc. Go with a gut feeling, initial reaction, and ease of deciphering the meaning. Before you try to expand your repertoire, decide on something that speaks to your heart and don’t be afraid to get intimate with it. Read your poem(s) in the morning, on your lunch break, in the car before you make the evening commute. Sit with it, live it, breathe it.
- Once you find a few poems that you like, notice any similarities. Are they from the same time period, written by mostly men or women, from a certain cultural background? Do they follow a rigid pattern or recipe (i.e. Sonnets have 14 lines, the last two being a rhyming couplet, no exceptions…)? Do they focus on nature, relationships, history, a lover, a lost pet?
- Get a journal and copy down your favorites. Depending on the style of journal, you may be able to “categorize” new discoveries for easier finding.
- As you read through your poems, new and old, notice punctuation and allow it to interpret your pace. Look for words to color your meaning: quickly (say quickly), smoothly (take your time, rolling the word in your mouth before releasing), etc.
- If you want to be SUPER classy and cultured, try committing poems to memory to pull out for parties, romantic afternoons, or your babysitting charges before they head to sleep. Practice alone in your car, sing the lines slowly to get an emotional range. Recite them in the shower through the steam as if you were on a hill surrounded by the mist of an early morning and Mr. Darcy himself were walking towards you. If you think it’s silly, imagine the man of your dreams quoting a romantic poem to you before a sweet kiss…then try and tell me it’s silly!
May your life be filled with romantic aestheticism this March!