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