Tuesday, April 1, 2014

National Poetry Month

It's National Poetry Month this April, and in honor of the occasion I'm writing a series of blogs on both reading and writing poetry. I'd like to share some more of my own poetry, but also poems by other writers, as well as discussing what poetry means to me.

So what made me start writing poetry? After my daughter was born, I made an effort to stay "present" in my own life. It's so easy to get distracted by the internet or the TV, especially when you're exhausted. I found that writing poetry, especially short forms like haiku or tanka, helped me to appreciate a moment and capture it on paper (or digitally). Longer forms, like sonnets, have given me a new and exciting challenge. As I wrote more, I discovered a whole community of poets on twitter, people who made social media a tool for sharing art, not just banal trivia. I've admired many of the modern poets I've followed, so I started reading a few modern poetry e-journals and blogs. It's exciting to me that poetry is still a living art form, and it's become so democratic!

Discovering modern poets piqued my interest in reading more classical poets as well. I loved Greek and Roman mythology and poetry when I was in college, so I had read the great epic poems--Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, as well as Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses. Now I've started reading A Book of Women Poets: From Antiquity to Now, and I'm looking forward to starting Basho's Narrow Road to a Far Province, one of the great classics of Japanese poetry and literature.

As a writer, I think that reading and writing poetry helps you develop a sense for the rhythm of words, for the way they rise and fall in a sentence. Word choice is vital in poetry; it demands that you think carefully about every detail of a particular word, from its rhyme to its shades of meaning, to the number of syllables it has. It's a far more precise medium than prose writing, yet poetry also has enormous amounts of flexibility and creative possibilities. I have learned to enjoy it very much, and I hope that more people will give it a try.


  1. I love celebrating poetry. Thanks for sharing this wonderful event.

  2. You're welcome! It's a great event.