Friday, November 5, 2010

Poetry Friday & Poetry as Healer - #220

This is poem #23 in a series of poems about poems.

One of the great gifts of reading poetry is that it can show us how unalone we are.  Most all of human experience has been experienced before, by other humans.  And many of these humans write about their sadness.  When I am sad, reading such poems helps me feel that someone is holding my hand in a dark night, that I will, indeed, find my way out.

Jane Kenyon's poem "In the Nursing Home", spoke to me when my own grandmother was in a nursing home, when I felt her life had become so different than the life she had led in her younger days.  When I lost a friend recently, I turned to Marie Howe's "My Dead Friends".  We give poems to new babies, read them at weddings, share them at funerals.  Poetry is the genre of human emotion, a strong shoulder we can lean against in the wild winds of life.

Teachers - the poetry we offer up to our students must span the range of human experience.  It is not enough to offer silly and fun poems.  It's important, but it is not enough.  Children experience joy, sadness, humor, anger...and the books we choose should be a mirror for every one of these emotions.  As readers, we hope to find ourselves in books, we hope to find that hand in the dark.

Students - when you are trying to deal with something difficult, poetry can help.  Just spilling words (like tears) on to paper can help us feel relief and can sometimes even help us understand situations more clearly.  We don't have to share such writing with other people; sometimes it's just for us.

This anthology, edited by Georgia Heard in the wake of 9/11, is a collection of poems to comfort readers through any loss.  Illustrated by various artists, each poem reaches out to touch us during our own difficult times.

Today is Poetry Friday!  For the complete Poetry Friday roundup and a couple of cool dog poems, visit Teaching Authors, and you will learn about all kinds of interesting poetry posts in the kidlitosphere today.   Again, I welcome all of the new visitors from KidLitCon!  Please keep on coming back, y'hear? 

This THIS I BELIEVE commentary, "The Making of Poems",  by Gregory Orr, speaks to the power of poetry to heal us.  He writes, "Whenever I read a poem that moves me, I know I'm not alone in the world."

Mid-afternoon this Poetry Friday, I realized how many of us have been healed by poems.  If you have a poem title which has helped you through a dark time, would you please share it in the comments?  

To learn more about Poetry Friday from the Poetry Friday panel PowerPoint (how's THAT for a tongue twister?) see here.

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. Somehow I just knew that the book you would highlight with your post would be This Place I Know. It's a favorite of mine!

  2. Ohhhh! This took my breath away. "One poem held me as I cried." WOW. Yes.

  3. Really nice post. I love that last line in your poem.

  4. I'm with Melissa. This gave me chills and made my eyes mist over. Such a short one, but so well said.

    And I deeply love Jane Kenyon but had never read that poem you linked. Thanks. She had word magic.

  5. WOW! You've mastered the "less is more" school of poetry writing and shown us that when the poem stops, the reader goes through the windshield!

  6. Lovely post, Amy. Your poem expresses just how powerful and comforting poetry can be, especially during times of sadness and loss. My post today touches on something similar.

  7. Joy, sadness, humor, anger: Poetry can help us frame all of these emotions and more. And there is something unique in poetry's ability to comfort I think. It is like a friend who knows they don't have to say much, that silence can speak volumes.

  8. Amy,

    That's a lovely poem. I often turn to poetry in my hours of sadness

  9. Oh my dear poetry friends, It is heartwarming to know that we all hold desperately onto poems in our moments of despair. Thank you for your gentle words here...and if you are willing to share a poem title that has helped you, please do. Let us help our children understand this quieter power of poetry.

  10. James Wright's "A Blessing" comforts me.

  11. Great post. I so agree with you about the power of poetry.

  12. Just beautiful.

    A fellow poem-a-dayer from TeachingAuthors--but I "sailmail" them to one friend who is sailing around the world...and you send them to the whole world!

  13. Toby, You are too kind. I try not to bore myself...that's all! Now when are we having another playdate? A.
    Blythe, What a poem. Many many thanks for sharing it - it's a new (and newly loved) poem for me. A.
    Ruth, Yes, words can do what other things cannot. Thank goodness for words and for all of us finding each other. I am keeping you close at heart during this time. A.
    April, I remember you writing that you would be daily sailing-sharing...and many a'time I have thought of you, far away, writing each day. Your poetry is an inspiration. Your sailor friend is lucky. A.

  14. Your poem is really beautiful, Amy. That last line totally got me.

    I wrote a poem about this topic, kind of, but it didn't make it into my BOOKSPEAK collection. Maybe I'll share it in my blog one day!

    Kenyon's poems make me feel not like I'm being held, but like someone else is letting me into her own world, her own grief. They do make me feel less alone when I am grieving, though.

    Thanks, Amy!

  15. Amy, that last line is perfect. So beautiful. Thank you.