A poem for everyone

Seems like I’ve been away from this blog forever.  I’ve been busy reading other people’s writing, as in grant applications, as part of my volunteer role on a local committee. My head is into programs for those who are homeless, hungry, and in need of a job, a dentist or a psychologist, and not topics related to life after retirement.

However, a recent email from a friend living abroad inspired me to take a short break from the problems of my community. My friend, who majored in English, signed up for a short on-line poetry class to keep her brain active. Unfortunately, she’s not a great fan of poetry. Like all of us who’ve been out of school for a long time, beginning a university level course of any length is intimidating. Overwhelmed with the long lectures and the homework, she thought about quitting.

I wanted to encourage her to stick with it. I don’t understand much about poetry either, but decided to send her a few of my favorite poems, ones that are more accessible to us non-English majors. After sending poems the past two days, my goal of interesting my friend in poetry began to have an influence on me.  From my overcrowded bookshelves I dug out poetry collections, a book on how to write poetry, books of essays that contained poetry in them.

My husband asked why I was typing the poems in my emails instead of scanning them and sending the copies.  “This way is better,” I said.  “It’s making me pay attention to the poems.  I have to read them several times, make sure the punctuation is correct and that I haven’t left out any words. Each reading helps me understand the poems better.”

In the poems I’ve seen, I’m in awe of the writers use of punchy verbs, beautiful imagery, and their ability to forge a personal connection with the reader over the most mundane topics. In the case of the two poems I’ve sent, the subjects were tomatoes and pears, respectively, though like all poems, the meaning went deeper.

There’s also a sadness associated with the poems I’m looking at.  When a friend died, a group of us put together a booklet for her memorial service that contained her favorite poems.  I am working through the poems in that booklet one by one. The friend who assembled the booklet has also died.  She wrote haiku.  Below are three by Marilyn Sandall.

At the start of the war in Iraq:
bruise the camellia
news of war

On seeing her dying father in the hospital:
bones beneath
hospital sheets —
my father smaller

For Christmas:
bright crested
flashy new neighbor
tidings of joy!

The moral of the story: Even short poems can convey a world of meaning. And there are enough poems out there that all of us can find at least one  that makes us laugh, better appreciate the natural world, or remind us of someone who’s no longer with us, someone we wish were still here.









About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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6 Responses to A poem for everyone

  1. Sharon Howard says:

    Can’t understand how the poem about the puffin missed the cut !


  2. travelnwrite says:

    Great post! Now I just need to find an hour and a half to listen to that first on-line lecture!

  3. Marilyn Pedersen says:

    Jackie and I were talking about you last evening! I’ll contact you upon my return home and set up a lunch date.

    David Whyte is one of my favorite poets. House of Belonging resonates with me.

  4. stillalife says:

    would love to have lunch. I’ll look up David Whyte. thanks. Happy travels until I see you next

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