What Poetry has Taught Me

I’ve learned to love poetry. (Cover your ears, AmyMary Lee and Betsy.) There was a time in my life when I thought poetry was pointless.

*hangs head*covers face*apologetic eyes* 

I just didn’t see why we’d want to spend three class periods talking about 17 cryptic words, only to be told by the teacher what the poet really meant because of symbolism or mood or personification and then “doing” another poem for the remainder of the week. (This is the reality of my poetry experience in school.)

Then I read Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher and Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard. The way they talked about poetry made it sound almost worthwhile. The true transformation came, though, when I forced myself to write a poem. The only reason I did it was because I was asking my students to do it (and I set a crazy goal for the second semester of my fledgling teaching career to do everything I asked my students to do.)

I learned something about being a poet:

Molding words to fit in the tiny container of a poem leads to finding big meaning in life.

Writing poetry has helped me find my voice in prose. Writing poetry is one of the best things I can do to make my words work in blog posts and articles and speeches and fiction and books. Writing poetry has made it possible to process the big emotions I face in teaching and parenting and adopting and living. Writing poetry helps me find the heart of anything I write.

I’m learning poetry is the catalyst to finding our voices and meaning in other genres. I’ve helped kindergarten writers through high school writers learn to find power in poetry.In the midst, I’ve become a believer in myself as a poet. Perhaps this will redeem me in the eyes of my poet-friends.

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  1. You are more than redeemed my friend. As soon as you linked heart to poetry you had me. I feel that heart and poetry are synonymous with each other. A poem is the heart of a bigger story. It is the seed of an image. It is so many things and it all comes from “heart,” a love of words, a spinneret of phrasing…just talking about it makes my heart sing. I am so glad you found poetry and have allowed it to evolve into your heart. Keep spreading the message, poetry is alive.

  2. Well, I think those above have said it all, and poetically too! So happy to hear you think poetry is a good thing. I do agree, with much enthusiasm. I think it has added immeasurably to my own life always, but then to my students' lives all through the years. Thanks for saying this out loud!