Poetry – A Hidden Gem for Inspiration and Reflection

 

What do you think of if I say the words iambic pentameter? Did you just wince? It’s okay. I’m not judging. That term tends to bring up unwanted memories of sitting in a stuffy classroom listening to some professor and wondering why anyone needs to know the difference between a sonnet and a villanelle.

We ought to purposely have more poetry in our lives. A poem can be like a tiny island rising up from the ocean of our everyday hustle and bustle. It welcomes us onto its shores as we get out of our wave-tossed boats to rest on the soft sand under a whispering palm tree and just breathe for a moment.

It’s such a shame that reading poetry is something most people do only under duress. I understand how this happens. We’re force fed certain kinds of poetry when we’re in school, and the formality of it tends to turn us off. It’s confusing in its forms, rigid in its rules, and full of archaic language that we can hardly understand. It’s downright intimidating.

Or, is it?

The funny thing about poetry is that it sneaks into our lives every day, without us even noticing. Every song lyric is a poem—from Bob Dylan to Imagine Dragons to Tupac (especially Tupac). When you sing along in the car, you’re singing poetry.

Almost every children’s picture book is a poem. Some rhyme. Some don’t. But each is a sort of poem.

And if you’re on Facebook or Instagram, I bet you’ve come across your share of poems in disguise. Sometimes, it’s an excerpt from an actual poem. Sometimes, it’s a poetic caption written to accompany an image or a quote from someone like Ram Dass. Sometimes it’s a line of poetry that has made its way into our day-to-day conversational language: To err is human; to forgive, divine (Alexander Pope), How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Barrett Browning), Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas), The lady doth protest too much, methinks (Shakespeare), and so on.

The brevity of most poems makes them the perfect form for our busy lives. It’s not easy to make time to read a novel, but a poem can be savored in less time than it takes you to make a cup of coffee.

Don’t let their small size fool you, though. Poetry is a powerfully condensed form of expression. A poem is the boiled down essence of a thought or an experience. It attacks all our senses and sensibilities at once, overwhelming us with an immersion that is made more intense by a lack of logic or a linear flow.

Once a poem catches you, there’s no telling what will happen. You may be flung back in time or feel that time has stopped still around you. You may laugh out loud or weep for no reason you can explain. Poetry is experience and emotion distilled into an elixir of insight and transformation. It is a catalyst for creating epiphanies and new perspectives.

And there is a poem for everyone. From Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein to Tennyson and Maya Angelou, the world of poetry contains every possible style of human expression and touches on every imaginable topic, theme, and story. And despite this wealth of diversity, there are, you may discover, more similarities between Emily Dickinson and today’s slam poets than you might expect. In the end, they are all tapping into the same wellspring.

It’s easy to give yourself the gift of poetry. There are many email subscriptions for daily poems from places like The Poetry Foundation and Poets.org. You can even find poem-a-day playlists on Spotify. Or, you can go analog and pick up a poetry anthology to leave by the coffeemaker. Flip it open to a random page and see where it takes you. You may be surprised at what worlds await.

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Jamie Lee Wallace I am a freelance content writer, columnist, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. For more from me, check out the archives for the  Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy posts. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared as a column in the Ipswich Chronicle, and subsequently on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Photo Credit: schössling Flickr via Compfight cc

17 thoughts on “Poetry – A Hidden Gem for Inspiration and Reflection

    • Thank you, Simon … for your comment and your “hello!”
      I have been well – just busy and distracted on other projects, but it’s SO nice to be back here in this lovely community of writers. Hoping to stay “on the wagon” a little more consistently with my blogging schedule. 😉

  1. I used to read and appreciate poetry in my youth, early twenties mostly, but I fell out of it along the way. I do enjoy it once in a while–I’m pleasantly surprised by a Shakespeare sonnet on the inside wrapper of a Chocolove chocolate bar, for instance! It really does sneak its way into our lives.

    • The Shakespeare sonnet inside a chocolate wrapper IS the perfect example of how poetry sneaks into our lives. Love that! 🙂

  2. I love poetry too! I read somewhere that it’s “making a comeback,” whatever that means. I don’t care. I’m glad it does seem to be getting more attention lately, helped by more modern poets hitting the mainstream and showing people how incredible poetry can be. Great post! Thanks for sharing!!

    • I agree. I love seeing poetry showing up in online spaces especially – places where it can be shared and spread to others. Our world is so rushed these days, we need to find artistic nourishment wherever we can!

  3. thank you. Poems and poetry have always been more difficult when academia dictates the how and why of format etc. Real poetry has infiltrated its way into literature and often has not been identified as poetry. The psalms in the Bible for example are the finest examples of (ordinary) life expressing poetry, My first experiences of writing as a child were ‘free flowing’ examples of what today may be classed as ?poetry or ramblings? depending on how you view same. One I discovered in an old book……”I see a green frog under green leaf, under green tree. Little green frog what joy you have given to me’. I was probably only about eight years old. Poetry, commentary, observative child-like observation? All part of LIFE – All part of literature. Again appreciate what you have written. And yes, artistic nourishment should be found wherever we can in today’s world.

    • I love, love, love that you remember those lines from when you were an eight-year-old girl. Poetry has that kind of staying power, doesn’t it? And you’re right – much of it is child-like observation combined with a sense of wonder and awe that can transform the most seemingly mundane thing into a spiritually transformative experience. 🙂

    • Hello, Deepa. I am well, indeed, and hope you are as well. Thank you for saying, “hello!” and thank you for sharing your “little poems” with the world. 🙂

  4. It’s easy to give yourself the gift of poetry. There are many email subscriptions for daily poems from places like The Poetry Foundation and Poets.org. You can even find poem-a-day playlists on Spotify. Or, you can go analog and pick up a poetry anthology to leave by the coffeemaker. Flip it open to a random page and see where it takes you. You may be surprised at what worlds await.

  5. What a wonderful post. Poetry is very powerful. I know some wonderful poets with their own perspective on life. Their work is shocking and dark sometimes and other times light and beautiful. Poetry adds a insight to life, that cannot be found anywhere else. Thank you for sharing.

    • I agree – poetry opens doors to insights and emotions that we cannot access through other types of artwork or even, perhaps, experience. It’s such a condensed form of expression – so much packed into so few words. I’m often amazed at how a brief turn of phrase or couplet can leave me reeling.

  6. I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. I wrote in spurts, but with a mission. I never shared my poetry as it was such an intimate part of myself. Now, at the age of 70, I’ve been including it on by blog, bit by bit, stanza by stanza. My blog has set me free and the poetry has given me new life. I agree with you, poetry is everywhere.

    • That is so lovely, Linda. I love hearing that you have finally chosen to put your words out into the world. Now, more than ever, we need to share our art, even when it’s a little scary to do so. How wonderful that you have found your way to a place where you can do this. ❤

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