“Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me.”
How much do I love my poetry study group? Soo–oo much!” as my mom used to say, flinging her arms out into space to show how much she loved us. Our merry little band of poetry enthusiasts isn’t exactly a study group, it’s more like an “appreciation” group: We each bring a poem or two that we like and read it aloud and then chat about what attracted us to it. Simple — and so enjoyable!
My playwrighting coach used to say that anyone who wants to write should read poetry every day because its rhythms, patterns, and beats will spill over into your work and give it a lyrical quality that will make it memorable. With this in mind, here are the first stanzas of some of the wildly varied poems my group just shared. If you read them aloud, you’ll really feel the pull and pace of the language:
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curios volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘Tis’ some visitor,’ I muttered, tapping at my chamber door;
Only this and nothing more.”
The Witch by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
“I have walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitless earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!”
Snow Day by Billy Collins
“Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows”
Each poem is a little world, isn’t it? And so amazing how each opening line creates a sense of place and mood with just a handful of words — and seems to call the rest of the poem into being. What art! Write on.