In Praise of Poetry

The latest book in my “just read” pile is Jill Bialosky’s memoir Poetry Will Save Your Life.

I’m not a huge fan of poetry; a poem either speaks to me or it doesn’t, though I do have a (small) number of poems that touch my soul.  And there were several things I liked about this book that I wanted to share with you this week.

From a writer’s perspective, I thought the structure was so original.  The author shares a moment of time, a memory, an anecdote and then included a relevant poem.

From a book lover’s perspective, I thought the cover was beautiful (see the picture above) as were the front and end pages (see the picture below).

From a reader’s perspective, here are some of the passages I tagged as I read:

“A poem’s meaning alters by the associations, insights, and experience we bring to it.  A poem can do many things at once.  Like “The Road Not Taken,” it can challenge the reader intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.  It can validate our experiences or cause us to question our beliefs.”

“Surely this is one of the reasons poetry enriches us.  A poem links us to a universe at once intimate and communal.  Poets and artists work in solitude and by intuition.  They have the same mission: to capture and fathom the reality beyond appearances, the world invisible to the eye.”

“I realize that through the artfulness of poetic form, one can trap experience and make it palpable to a reader.  A poem might be about what hurts, and most illuminating, the subject might be drawn from one’s own life.  A poem could be both personal and communal and save a person from the dark shadow of shame.”

“Poems often begin from a question, or a needling of something disturbing or provoking, sometimes even from ignorance.  From there a poet takes elements, either an image, a particular scene or landscape, a memory, maybe only an expression – and appeals to her unconscious, her place of unknowing in hopes that as words, phrases, and fragments take shape, like beads on a string, something original and exciting might evolve.”

Readers, what are your favorite poems?  Feel free to share in the comments section!

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