April is National Poetry Month, a celebration started by the American Academy of Poets in 1996.
A friend of mine suggested sharing bits of poetry on Facebook during the month, and that got me thinking about other ways I could celebrate poetry and what it means to me.
I’ve written before on this blog about my love of Mary Oliver’s poetry and the peace and calmness it brings me.
I have always enjoyed reading poetry, and even wrote a lot of it years ago.
I love words, and each word is important in a poem. The entire meaning of the poem can turn on one word and its definition and connotations.
Beyond that, great poets reach into their souls for their words and in turn have the possibility of touching others.
Reading poetry centers me. It’s harder for me to pay attention to the racing thoughts of anxiety when I’m caught up in the cadence of a poem.
Certainly reading poetry is a viable choice for me when I’m trying to redirect my attention away from compulsive urges that go along with obsessive-compulsion disorder.
And many a poem has offered me hope when I’ve been sunk in depression.
Poetry adds beauty and insight to my life, and that’s a good thing for anyone, not just those who suffer from OCD, depression and other anxiety disorders.
The website for National Poetry Month provides 30 suggestions on ways for individuals and the community to celebrate poetry. Here are some of my favorites:
Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day. This day is April 26. You are invited to carry a favorite poem in your pocket and share it with others.
I didn’t want to wait until April 26. I carried a poem in my pocket today. I liked reaching into my pocket and remembering the poem and reciting it to myself. It was an Emily Dickinson poem that reflects the power of words:
“A word is dead
When it is said,
I say it just
Begins to live
Read a book of poetry. I plan to revisit some poets I haven’t read for a while, and look for new ones.
Memorize a poem. I love memorizing poems. They are available to me whenever I need solace, encouragement or a bit of beauty.
Start a commonplace book. According to the website, commonplace books are personal anthologies. You copy favorite poems and quotations into the notebook. These notebooks “can be a source of enjoyment and solace, reminding the keeper of favorite books and poems, and can even become family heirlooms.”
I’ve done some of this in my journals, but I plan to begin devoting one journal to my favorite poems.
Integrate poetry and technology. This involves including poetry as part of your email signature, on your voice mail message and on social media like Facebook and Twitter.
I plan to share a bit of poetry every day on my Facebook page. It will keep me reading, and, I hope, share some beauty with others.
Write a letter to a poet. I’ve never done this. But I’d like to show some appreciation to poets who have touched my life in a positive way.
What is your relationship with poetry? How does reading poetry affect you? Who are your favorite poets? What poem would you carry in your pocket? Do you write poetry?