Friday, April 1, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

I'm trying to understand what it is about poetry that excites me. Each year I make a big deal of National Poetry Month at whichever library I happen to be working. Yet, there are many poems that I do not understand. So what is it about poetry that I like?

I began thinking about this as I planned blog posts, tweets, displays and programs for National Poetry Month 2011. When I read the poems that I consider favorites, I see that it's the art of the words that I love. In poetry, words are carefully chosen and strategically arranged to produce a sight, a sound, a smell, a feel, a memory. Following are examples, a few of my favorite poetic lines.

"...sensing only the pale humidity
of the night and the slight zephyrs
that stir the tops of the trees"
from Night Letter to the Reader by Billy Collins.

"Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot."
from The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson

"He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake."
from Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Recently someone suggested to me that the written word is an impersonal form of communication compared with face-to-face conversation. I see it differently. I'm a writer and a reader, and words are the most intimate, most lovely, most heartfelt form of communication. This is what I like about poetry: The precisely chosen beautiful words and the pictures they paint.

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