Progress: A Visual Representation
At the "Root" of March, Part 1

Blasting You With Poetry

Welcome, friends . . . to April -- and National Poetry Month!

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Each April, for many years now, I have celebrated National Poetry Month here on my blog.  In the past, I've shared tips on how to enjoy the month, and links to interesting poets I think you might enjoy, a story here and there, and poems, of course. But mostly . . . it's all been an opportunity for me share my love of poetry. And maybe . . . to get you to love it, too.

This year, I asked Bonny and Kat if they might like to join forces with me for the month . . . so we could coordinate our poetry posts and, well . . . blast you with poetry! Join us on our blogs each Thursday this month as we celebrate National Poetry Month.

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“But it isn't easy,' said Pooh. 'Because Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.”
A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Today, I thought I'd share my little home poetry library with you, and just explain a little about . . . how I read poetry (which I do, every day). Because I think, for a lot of people, that poetry is kind of . . . overwhelming, maybe even intimidating, and certainly never something they would just . . . read. For enjoyment and fun. And, heck. How do you even go about . . . just reading it?

Well. I would posit that . . . you need to do exactly what Pooh suggests in the quote I shared today: go where it can find you! And for me, that's usually in a book  . . . that I just grab off the shelf.

When I was a little girl, I didn't own very many books -- but the ones I did own were very special to me. I usually got one hardcover book as a present on my birthday and maybe another at Christmas, and I always got to order a couple of paperbacks from Scholastic Books when ordering time came around at school. (I think the first time I actually entered a book store . . . was in college!) I had a little shelf right above the desk in my room, and that's where I kept my books. Back then, I dreamed of having a house with a library of my own! Shelves and shelves of books!

When we moved into the house we live in now, my dream finally came true.

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I DO have a library of my own now. (And I have to be very careful to keep my "book inventory" in check. There is plenty of room on our shelves, but we've learned to be very judicious about the books we own. It's so easy to get carried away. The books on our shelves are books that are special to us -- or books that are especially useful.

My "poetry collection" lives in the two shelves just below the wooden shoes (they were a gift to Tom when he gave a talk at Hope College many years ago), over there in the second group of shelves from the right. Here's a close up . . . 

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It's not a huge collection, but it is carefully curated. I have a few digital books of poetry on my iPad as well, but I much prefer to read poetry in actual, real-book form. 

The location of my poetry collection within the library shelves is very . . . intentional. You might not be able to tell from the photos, but my poetry books are exactly at my eye level. I can just wander over to the shelves and . . . pick out a book. Easy-peasy. And, actually, that's how I read poetry (for the most part). I wander over, I choose a book (most often just randomly, although sometimes with a poet in mind), and then I sit and read for awhile. Usually just a poem or two, but I've been known to get lost in poetry for awhile, too.

I've discovered that the book almost always falls open to the exact poem that suits my mood. It's an amazing thing, actually, and I've learned to just trust it. I rarely read a book of poetry from beginning to end, all in one sitting. It does happen, of course. Especially if it's a book of poetry arranged around a theme. Or a new collection. Or something I've borrowed from the library. But I mostly just read in little bits and bobs, here and there, poking around and letting the magic of poetry take over.

I like poetry best when I can sit with it for awhile . . . with a lot of space around the words.

This month, I invite you to Be Like Pooh. Put yourself in a place where poetry can find you!

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Here's a favorite poem . . . one that I read the other morning . . . when the book just opened up to the very page . . . 

Let Evening Come
Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go back inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

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Today's poem comes from Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems, 2005, Graywolf Press. You can find out more about Jane Kenyon and read more of her poems here, at the Poetry Foundation.

Be sure to visit Bonny and Kat today, too. We really do want to blast you with poetry!

 

Comments

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Kat

I love your library of poetry books! Thanks to you and the brilliant way you share poetry, I discovered how many things there are to love about poetry! I love that Jane Kenyon poem (it is new to me!) and I will have to look for a book of her poems. The thing I think I love most about poetry is how it can help you look at things familiar and see them in an entirely different way! I am really looking forward to what you share this month!

Bonny

How wonderful, Kym! I love the Pooh quote (and I thought I knew House at Pooh Corner), your bookshelves, and your poetry library. (Those wooden shoes are pretty cool, too.) But most of all I love that you've chosen the perfect poem. It's not one I was familiar with, but I may be adding that Jane Kenyon book to my own poetry library (which currently consists of about four books). Thanks so much for including me in your National Poetry Month Great Idea and sharing the astonishment, joy, and peace that is poetry.

Carolyn

I so love Jane Kenyon...but can never read her without a shadow. She and Donald Hall were fixtures of my grad school, and her absence became a palpable part of the history. What love.
So glad your home library dream came true! Such a cozy space, and one I’d be hard pressed to leave many months of the year. Looking forward to treasures this month. Thank you.

Vera

Oh this is fun! First, I love your shelves and books (and the wooden shoes). I love the poem you shared. You and I read poetry the same way - I will often pluck a book and just let it fall open and then read. I keep several large volumns of poetry on my nightstand and I have a bunch more on top of a bookcase in our bedroom (on top so they are easier to access). I grew up in a house where poetry was often recited (both my parents had a number of poems that they had memorized over the years) and there were lots and lots of books and lots and lots of poetry books (most of which now belong to me and Colin!). I'm looking forward to reading what you, Kat and Bonny have in store for us this month. Thank you!!

Debbie

I have a couple of shelves of poetry books too. My father and my maternal grandfather both loved poetry and I have fond memories of them reading to me. My grandfather favored Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Longfellow and my father read from James Whitcomb Riley, Frost, Kilmer and various humorous poems that we always loved. As a child, I read back to them form A Child's Garden of Verses and I still have my copy as well as a copy that belonged to my grandmother when she was a girl. Like you, I enjoy picking out a book, opening to a poem, and seeing what it has to say to me. Sometimes, I enjoy returning to those childhood favorites!

Carole

That poem so beautifully describes one of my favorite times of day. I always particularly loved it when we were camping, either modern or reenacting. Is there a collection of poems you would recommend for someone who doesn't (gasp) read poetry regularly but wants to start? Thank you.

Sarah

I have several volumes of poetry on my bookshelves, but they're scattered about. Maybe the key to reading more poetry is having a poetry section that I can easily get to.

As to the poem you shared, it's familiar enough that I know I've read it before, but I'll be darned if I can remember where! All the same it was a joy to revisit it.

Jane

I love seeing your bookshelves. The books people own always fascinate me. Kenyon is one of my favorite poets and this is one of my favorites too.

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