Where I live in rural Northwestern Connecticut, the snow has finally melted. I saw the first promise of new life and growth yesterday in the form of a white and yellow crocus opening into bloom, and today I can walk around barefoot without my toes freezing. Birds chirp all morning and the spring peepers are out at night. After a long, bleak winter, this is absolutely blissful. It is no wonder the Academy of American Poets chose April as the month to hold National Poetry Month, a yearly literary celebration of “poetry’s vital place in our culture.” (Check out Poets.org for more info!)
“When you live in a rapidly moving swirl, you can only view your surroundings with a glance,” explains the Academy’s Chancellor Naomi Shihab Nye. “Poetry requires us to slow down, to take time to pause.” Whether you’re reading a poem, writing a poem, or studying your surroundings—taking time to see the blades of grass, the trees’ branches, the cloudless sky; to listen to each bird’s song; to feel how the sun warms each part of your body while the breeze cools it down—as poets must do in order to write about them, you’re slowing down, you’re being mindful, you’re connecting, and you’re exploring, just as Positive Messages Headband encourages us to do.
All too often, people shy away (or run away) from poetry, turned off by the notion that all poems are dense, complicated, and hard to understand. And while yes, some of the most famous and celebrated poems are difficult to get through or are utterly confusing (even to those of us who’ve studied literature), that is not all poetry. In my opinion, the best poets are those who write for all readers, who make the mundane glimmer and the amazing tangible—those who slow themselves down enough to engage with their surroundings and in turn, make their readers do the same. Poems can be both simple and beautiful. They can change your perspective, make you reflect, and make you feel.
Poems needn’t rhyme. Poems mustn’t be twisted into complicated line patterns, or jammed into intricate meters (although there are some fantastic poems that were written into very specific forms). And you can write poetry without having first earned a PhD, an MFA, or having received any sort of formal training. So, in honor of this most enchanting time of year and National Poetry Month, I challenge you, buds, to take the time to read or write a poem.
Be inspired by your surroundings, your family, your feelings, the writing of others, or the words written on the Positive Messages headband, which is perfect to wear to while writing, reading, or doing anything else! Be as simple or as complicated as you wish. Scribble on a napkin or type on a computer. Search famous poems online or find books by local writers in the nearest bookstore. All that’s left to do is begin.
Liz wore the Positive Messages Boho Headband
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