Original views on life in rural America LuAnn Schindler, Publisher
April 22, 2021
Allen Ginsberg wrote, “Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”
Poetry gives universal meaning to a singular effect, offers visual storytelling, complete with twists and turns. It is uniquely personal and open to the reader’s interpretation.
I think that’s why I liked putting together poetry programs with my speech students. Finding the perfect blend of rhythm and meter, and combining those qualities with an uncommon theme, introduced a wide world of poetry.
The true test of a quality poetic performance: Close my eyes, listen to the words and view the action as it plays out on my eyelids. Quality poetry allows listeners to hear and see the power behind each syllable.
National Poetry Month, held annually in April, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The brainchild of the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month promotes awareness and appreciation of verse. So many poems resonate, so little time to list them all. I’ve selected a handful of poems that continue to stand out to me.
While a young child, I fell in love with the poetry of John G. Neihardt and his stories of the Great American West. His lyrical descriptions captured my attention and led to my appreciation for writing and storytelling.
Later, I found the dark stories of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath intriguing. One of my all-time favorite poems is “The Addict” by Sexton, where she details her drug addiction, which ultimately led to her death. Some of the best lines come at the end:
“It’s a ceremony, but like any other sport, it’s full of rules.
It’s like a musical tennis match where my mouth keeps catching the ball.
Then I lie on; my altar elevated by the eight chemical kisses.
What a lay me down this is, with two pink, two orange, two green, two white goodnights.
Now I’m borrowed. Now I’m numb.”
On a lighter note ... nobody writes satire like Dorothy Parker. Her poem, “Unfortunate Coincidence” poses an age-old question: Who is telling the truth?
“By the time you swear you’re his, shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is infinite, undying --
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.”
Some poems show vulnerability, a rawness that digs and claws through barriers en route to the heart of an issue.
That’s what I think when I read Hayden Carruth’s “Swept.”
It tells a terrifying sentiment many of us face. It’s written form, especially the line breaks, allow readers to draw their own conclusions about which words offer the most insight.
“When we say I
miss you what
we mean is I’m
dread. At night
to bed is
like lying down
in a wave. Total
Absence of light.
Swept away to
Frightening and brilliant at the same time.
Which poems stand out to you? Share you favorites with us on our social media channels.