Poetry is today’s topic in the blogging A to Z challenge. When I taught junior high language arts, I always told my students that I might not get them to love poetry but hopefully I could get them to at least appreciate poetry. Lots of people say they don’t like poetry because they don’t understand it or they say it’s stupid. I always say that’s untrue because if you like music, then chances are you like poetry. Song lyrics are definitely poetry. They use numerous poetic elements — rhythm, rhyme, and a myriad of figurative language. One artist who, in my opinion, isn’t the best singer but is an amazing lyricist is Taylor Swift. Her lyrics for “All Too Well” truly are poetry. I also kind of like Eric Church’s lyrics for “Over When It’s Over“; I have said that would be a great song to teach metaphor. Students always like to test the theory of lyrics being poetry by bringing up much-maligned forms of music like rap. I contend that rap music is some of the most poetic out there! When I hear the lyrics to Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie“, I am struck by all the imagery and ambiguity in the words. I am also incredibly moved by the poem “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden. There is actually a particularly beautiful reading of that poem in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.
But when it comes to “traditional” poetry, my taste is all over the place. I would venture to say that my favorite poem is “Love Song: I and Thou” by Alan Dugan. I stumbled upon it one year many years ago and it was like smacking into a wall. I also love “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. I love the image of life being a crystal stair. I pretty much adore Gwendolyn Brooks. I remember seeing her speak at a conference once while I was pregnant with my daughter. She put her hands on my belly and smiled. Which makes my favorite Gwendolyn Brooks poem, “the mother” even more haunting than it already is.
I’ve tried my hand at writing my own poetry, but I’m just not very good at it. My husband once told me that my poetry is at it’s best when my life is miserable. He’s probably right. I will share here one poem I’ve written that I’m actually proud of and has received compliments. The title is “Cass Lake”.
Diamonds made of moonlight
Dance on the ripples
In the dusk.
The gray of the lake in the evening
Reminds me of the times you and I sat on the pier
And dreamed of growing old together:
Gray as the lake,
Rich as diamonds!