A Poem In Your Pocket
Today is national poem in your pocket day. So I am curious what poem would you carry in your pocket and why? I wonder, what ailment or challenge might your poem help with? And will you be brave enough to either send someone a poem today or read it out loud?
"Long before we created libraries, or even books, poetry
was the way humans remembered who we were, a primary means of documenting and
contemplating our lives." - Robin Coste Lewis
I recall the first time I wrote poetry in primary school how the words tumbled out from inside my six year old self making music on the blank page. Since that time poetry has remained a staple in my life in some shape or form. Today is a celebration of poetry with the national poem in your pocket day. I think this is a great way to bring poetry into the everyday. There is so much poetry can help one with. I could not imagine a world without poetry? Could you? Poetry is the sound of the human heart in words.
Considered as one of the most ancient and oldest languages poems were learnt off by heart and recited aloud a form of visual diary and memory. The existence of poetry is as old as the human race itself and the subject of a poem has no bounds. The nature of and value of poetry in these modern times is even more significant given the ailments and real but often subtle and invisible challenges of modern life.
We need the language of poetry Irish poet David Whyte tells us, " ... Poetry is language against which you have no defences." That sentence takes my breath away, “Poetry is language against which you have no defences.” The world in all its different guises needs poetry. The ordinary woman and man on the street like you and I need it, the young and the old need it, governments need it, the corporate business world needs it, Syria and all war torn countries and those adding and abetting need it, marriages and relationships need it, our souls need it. I need poetry. As Krista TIppett commented during her recent podcast interview with David Whyte, "What you I think you bring into the open or help people bring into the open, is the difficult fact that all this complexity of being human, and all these things we carry, we don't actually check at the door of our workplaces."
Have a listen for yourself here http://www.onbeing.org/program/david-whyte-the-conversational-nature-of-reality/8560
So today I'm curious to know what poem from your past or present would you choose to carry in your pocket as a tribute to the phenomenal impact and expression poetry has made to our world? It may be the first poem you ever remember hearing or reading, or a poem or verse that at some point in your life made a deep impact or conveyed the words or feelings better than you could have expressed them yourself. Journal writing expert Kay Adams refers to poems of this nature as, ‘Mentor’ poems.
There are several poems I can instantly think of that come to mind that I would carry as ‘Mentor poems’ for different reasons and for different seasons. For a celebration of my cultural identity and the journey my ancestors endured so I (we) could be here I would carry the words of the poem, Still I Rise by Dr Maya Angelou. To counter wavering dips in self-esteem or self-doubt it would be the worthy weight of the words from the poem, Some Me Of Beauty by Carolyn Rodgers. On a dark night of the soul the words of the Persian poet Hafiz would set my world ablaze with, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being,” and finally in a celebration of nature the words of US poet Mary Oliver's, A Summer's Day would shout and rejoice from the page.
There are so many poems to choose from and like a change of clothes the choices and your reasons for a poems choice changes depending on need and relevance. I keep a collection of poems in word documents on my desktop, which I can draw from sometimes spontaneously and often intuitively during my work as a coach and a workshop facilitator in response to something said or not said, or stimulated by a theme or topic that is being explored. A moment sharing a poem with an individual or group I am working never fails to slows things down and is often a moment of exquisite tenderness.
Don't be shy about reading poetry aloud. Research has shown that reading poetry can create new neural pathways in the brain. A 1994 survey in The Lancet Journal of 84 health professionals and 218 members of the public found that 90 percent of respondents reported health benefits such as better sleep patterns, reduced physical pain and improved moods as a result of reading poetry. So hold this is in mind as you recite a poem aloud at work or to a friend. No longer with us the poet Julia Darling believed that, "Poetry should be part of every modern hospital ... It's a powerful force, which can help us through the darkest times. I would like to see more poets in residence, more poetry books in waiting rooms." What a legacy and vision to leave us with.
A good poem that speaks from the heart can be whipped out on a girl’s night in or an emotional conversation on the phone. The right poem without effort can convey the perfect message or medicine that is needed in that moment. According to William Sieghart, founder of the Forward Poetry prize, "In our increasingly alienated modern lives, an appropriate poem can be more helpful than many forms of therapy. We love our poetry but are often intimidated by it. Yet we consume more greeting cards than any other nations, enjoy chants on the football terraces and have contributed. Significantly to the canon of rap music." Read that sentence again if you need to because I think Sieghart really has a point.
So I am really curious what poem or poems would you tuck into your pocket today and why? Perhaps it is a favourite or perhaps the poem subtlety helps with an ailment or life challenge?
Here are some further suggestions on how to share your chosen poems in a range of different ways today:
- Select different moments in the day to stop and recite a poem to a friend, colleague or even a stranger (go on be brave)
- Tuck a favourite poem into your pocket, purse, wallet or bag. You never know when you will need it:
- Add a poem to your email footer, twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook page
- Send three people a poem today with the reason why the poem made you think of them
- Organise a lunchtime/evening poetry group and invite everyone to bring along a poem to share.
- Discuss the poem and invite people to share ideas and opinions about the poem and what it means.