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In 2020 my brain was overstressed. I didn’t feel like I had a lot of personal growth because I was spending my time feeling anxious, wiping off groceries, and doom scrolling more than I care to admit.

This year I have (slightly) more brain space, and I’ve dusted off some of my former loves and found some new ones. One of these has been poetry.

As a child, I remember reading my sister’s copy of A Light In The Attic and Where The Sidewalk Ends, both by Shel Silverstein, and laughing out loud as I read. I began to write my own poetry and mimic his style. I turned to jump rope rhymes and loved the rhythm and silliness. I checked out Jack Prelusktly books from the library and found the poems about how dumb school was to be particularly hilarious.

I had such great confidence in my poetry skills as a child that I started wrapping up and gifting poems I had written to my family for Christmas. My highest claim to poetry fame was in the 3rd grade. I won 1st prize in the Reflection’s Contest for a poem called “It Could Happen.” It is one of the few blue ribbons I’ve ever received, and I’m still a little proud. 

My love of poetry continued as I was a teenager and needed to get those big feelings out in spiral bound notebooks.

I wrote poems about my unrequited love, heartbreak, and feeling generally misunderstood. When I look back now, I sometimes cringe at the very dramatic, heart-poured-out-in-ink cursive in my old notebooks, but it was real to me then. I felt all the big emotions; it was therapeutic for me to write my feelings and helped me to have somewhere safe to express myself. 

In college, I took an understanding Shakespeare course and came away with a greater love for prose and a very heavy complete works of Shakespeare book that has traveled around the world with me. I loved picking apart the sonnets and wondered when one of these college boys would write me one. 

book of poetry open with dark pink roses laying on top
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

After college I forgot about poetry for a while.

I got busy working and paying bills. Then I got married and moved all around the country. Poetry seemed less accessible or important.

Several years ago in San Antonio, I was part of the best book club. Every meeting was amazing, but I really loved the Christmas party. We hosted a cookie exchange and brought a book to do as a swap.

My first year, I received what was my reintroduction to poetry. My friend Sarah, who is a longtime military spouse and poet herself, gave me a copy of 180 Extraordinary Poems for Every Day: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry with an introduction by Billy Collins. It was something I wouldn’t have picked out for myself with my young child filled life, but I was happy to receive it. I will admit I haven’t read it cover to cover, but I don’t think you have to do that with poetry. 

Poetry can be a snack. When my brain is too tired to think of a meal, or book, I can grab a morsel of poetry. Would I prefer something salty like Sylvia Plath, a sweet Shakespeare sonnet, or something unique like a bite of an E.E. Cummings piece? 

So now in this stage of life, I pick up a recently acquired Langston Hughes collection of poems or skim through my poems for every day book. I slow down and let the words sink in, and I appreciate the beauty someone has created. 

In January, I was mesmerized by the power and intensity of Amanda Gorman’s words at the Presidential Inauguration.

My daughters and I watched, and I quietly explained that all poetry doesn’t rhyme. We have read her words for America over and over again. Hearing her speak spurred me to teach more poetry in our homeschooling. We learned about cinquains, sonnets, free verse, and limericks. I’ve loved sharing and teaching my daughters the power and beauty of poetry. Memorizing poetry has been one of the recent highlights. I’ve reminded them that their favorite songs are poetry put to music, so they really do know a lot of poems.

If you have had any love for poetry in the past or are interested in reading a few poems, here are a few recommendations!


For Kids

 

For Adults 

 

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