From one of the shelves on my desk sits a row of poetry books. Most belonged to my grandmother. She was a high school English teacher some 50+ years ago. Poetry was a big thing back then. She read us poems, even made me memorize a few when I was younger. Growing up, my life was full of poetry, not from school but in my home. As I pulled down one of my favorites, 1000 Beautiful Things, complied by Marjorie Barrows, 1947, tears formed in my eyes as I read. So many children are growing up not exposed to the wonders of poetry. I know they have a brief unit or two, and even write a few during different phases of their younger years in grade school but it is different now than it was.
With the age of technology upon us written language has changed over the past 20 years. Texting has taken over with a language of its own. Very few if any under the age of 25 ever write letter to anyone. The failing postal service in the USA is feeling the lack of written communication on a personal level. I noticed the other day when my 21-year-old asked me how to address an envelope because she had forgotten how. I had failed my own children in regard to letter writing. She told me she never had to address an envelope in high school, the last time was in elementary school. She had written a letter for persuasion, to make requests for information and thank you notes but had sent all via email. I realized she had never received a hand written love letter containing a love poem. How sad. Nothing is more touching than to receive a love poem. She also had never received a funny poem written by a friend in honor of a lighthearted situation. In fact, she had never coined a poem or two since it was required the last time was in middle school.
I opened my filing cabinet and pulled out two bulging folders full of poems I had written. I have never shared them. Wondering why I realized it was because someone had laughed so many years ago when I said I wrote poems. Silly how one person could change my beloved past time hobby. I did write again in a masters level college class. No, a poet of great works I will never be but one who sings the songs of my heart and mind across the fibers of paper for my own personal enjoyment and some rare few others I most definitely will do again. I even have a file of some poems I have received. Yes, a few love poems from young loves back in the day. I still treasure those even though time has altered our paths I still can feel the little flicker associated with the words from a time long ago. Two treasured collects are from friends who were poets in the days of high school. I giggle and sigh as each poem reminds me of the memories captured of a carefree time. Some weathered old pieces of paper contain poems written by my grandmother. Those are very special to me. I hold in my hands a vast collection of heart songs called poems. Each taking me back to a special time and place. Each one bringing me back to connect with people, emotions, places, and most of all parts of my life I often forget until my hands open the files of words of my life.
On my shelf I have many books of poems. Some bring me to the ocean shores as I read them I can hear the waves crashing in my mind. Others take me deep in the woods where the scent of fresh pine and flowers are triggered. There are those that cause tears to run down my cheeks, some from intense laugher, a few from sadness, and those special ones that touch my heart. In a section off to the far side are a few poetry books filled with children’s verses. Those I read to my children when they were very young. A few they could quote when they were little but were soon replaced by words from a big purple dinosaur named Barney or a group called the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. I realized I had allowed this to happen. Sigh.
My goal is to bring poetry and the art of hand written letters back to those around me. I hope to share with the children and adults I work with as well as making a higher priority to commit to writing both letters and poems to my family. Some traditions and ways should not pass as we move forward. The art of writing personal letters and poetry are two which need to be revived to carry on.
I ask of life this last request:
That word of mine may share
With all who read that loveliness-
The halo of the hair,
The softest voice, the busy hands,
The gentleness and grace-
The logic of the mind- the light
That brightened up a face.
– Mildred Bowers Armstrong
Made you smile, didn’t it. Dig out the poetry books. Find a pen and pencil to write a few of your own. Send a letter to a friend with a limerick or funny line or two. Share a favorite childhood poem with your own children or grandchildren. Or, create a private journal to fill with poems, letters, sayings, quotes, and pictures of things which touch your heart. In years to come you will find it a treasure of memories which will fill your heart from moments you have forgotten.
- To Pick a Poem (wordatcornell.wordpress.com)
- Why is Poetry Still Relevant in School? : Rebecca Luce-Kapler (rfstr.wordpress.com)
- What Is a Poem? (theatlantic.com)
- Poetry (chickidoodlefun.wordpress.com)
- New York Uses Poetry to Make Roads Safer for Pedestrians (smartsign.com)