April is National Poetry Month.
On Thursdays in April, Bonny, Kat, Sarah, and I will be sharing poetry with you. We've got a loose plan for our posts, with poetry selected around "themes." We're starting out this week . . . with poems about hope.
Last year, I found a new poetry anthology edited by James Crews . . .
It's a great little collection of poems (really . . . a gem of a collection), should you be looking for something to add to your own poetry collection during Poetry Month. The editor, James Crews, has this to say (in his introduction to the collection) about poetry . . . and hope.
"During these uncertain and trying times, we tell ourselves that joy is an indulgence we can no longer afford. And we've become all too familiar with the despair filling the airwaves and crowding our social media feeds, leading to what psychologists now call empathy or compassion fatigue, whereby we grow numb and disconnected from the suffering of others. We want to stay informed about what's going on in the world, yet we also know that absorbing so much negativity leaves us drained and hopeless. We know it's robbing us of the ability to be present to our own experience and grateful for something as simple as the moon . . . "
Reading poetry is one of the best ways for me to connect back to the present moment; to escape from too much of the harsh news that pulls me down and keeps me feeling paralyzed. When things feel . . . hopeless . . . poetry shines a light for me, and connects me back to a world that isn't only darkness.
Again, the words of James Crews . . .
"I trust in the necessity and pleasure of all kinds of creativity -- from cooking a meal to fixing a car to sketching in the margins of a grocery list -- but poetry is an art form especially suited to our challenging times. It helps us dive beneath the surface of our lives, and enter a place of wider, wilder, more universal knowing. And because poetry is made of the everyday material of language, we each have access to its ability to hold truths that normal conversation simply can't contain. When you find a poem that speaks to exactly what you've felt but had no way to name, a light bulb flashes in some hidden part of the self that you might have forgotten was there."
This month, as we share poetry together, I hope that you'll find a poem (or two) that "speaks to exactly what you've felt but had no way to name." May poetry . . . bring you hope.
Over the Weather
Naomi Shihab Nye
We forget about the spaciousness
above the clouds
but it's up there. The sun's up there too.
When words we hear don't fit the day,
when we worry
what we did or didn't do,
what if we close our eyes,
say any word we love
that makes us feel calm,
slip it into the atmosphere
Creamy miles of quiet.
Giant swoop of blue.
Today's poem is from my copy of How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, and published by Storey Publishing, 2021. For more information about today's poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, click here.