Green River Star -

By Jacquie Kramer
Sweetwater County Library System 

The power of poetry

 


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

This is one of my favorite lines of poetry. Mary Oliver ends her poem, “The Summer Day,” with this question. The bulk of the poem meditates upon a moment of a grasshopper’s life. The beauty of poetry, I think, is its ability to take ordinary things and use them to push you to examine yourself, your actions, your life.

April is National Poetry month. Millions of teachers, students, librarians, booksellers, publishers, bloggers, authors, and poets take part in this celebration each April.

The Academy of American Poets founded National Poetry Month in 1996 in the hopes of increasing awareness of American poets and poetry and celebrating the accomplishments of said poets.

Check out the Academy of American Poets website, http://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month, to find out more about National Poetry Month and to become more involved in the national celebration.

The Sweetwater County Library is joining the national campaign and doing our part to celebrate poetry during the month of April.

Check out our poetry displays and dare to pick up a book of poetry. Don’t forget to bring the kids because the Youth Services Department is putting out a build your own Duplo Lego poetry table. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Be sure to come in on April 21 for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Receive a poem to slip in your pocket, purse, or to use as a bookmark.

Poetry can be very intimidating for some. I think that a lot of people immediately think of Shakespeare or some other Elizabethan or Victorian poet or author when they hear the word “poetry.” There are so many accessible poems nowadays. As I mentioned before, Mary Oliver is a wonderful example of a contemporary poet who focuses on the beauty of nature, as is Robert Frost.

Have you heard of Shel Silverstein? He is one of those timeless children’s poets. When I was about 10 years old, I remember being charged with the task of memorizing a certain Shel Silverstein poem in Library class. I can still recite it to this day! That is another illustration of the beauty of poetry – its importance as an educational tool.

Poetry helps promote literacy. I found great article on edutopia.com that illustrates this point very well. The article is called “Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in Schools.” Author Elena Aguilar explains that poetry, when read aloud, has a beat and a rhythm. The rhyme and rhythm of poetry appeals to young children and helps to get them interested in sounds and movements.

Aguilar also stresses the importance of poetry as an English-language learning tool, and as I mentioned before, she also believes in the power of poetry as a way of learning about society and one’s self. “A well-crafted phrase or two in a poem can help us see an experience in an entirely new way,” Aguilar states.

It can be easy to downplay the power of poetry, and many do. I ask you to think about the ways poetry has influenced your own life, or the life of someone you know. Many graduation speeches quote lines from Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Travelled,” and I’ve heard others use lines from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Some of the world’s most famous artists and musicians have benefitted from poetry. Bob Dylan, or Robert Zimmerman, took his stage name in honor of poet Dylan Thomas. Can you imagine Bob Dylan going by any other name? The Beatles’ song “Golden Slumbers” pays homage to Thomas Dekker’s poem” Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes.” Psychedelic rock band, The Doors, owe their name to a William Blake poem, and Dante and John Milton’s works have even inspired video games.

This April I urge you to check out a book of poetry from the library. Or, stop by on April 21 for Poem in your Pocket Day and receive a poem to take home.

Challenge yourself to see the power of poetry.

 

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