Break out the party hats

Do you like to read about cars, cats, sex and sin? Perhaps you prefer hearts and flowers; maybe even a lovely walk through the woods on a snowy evening. It’s time to break out the poetry. April is National Poetry Month, and I’ve already started to celebrate. I’m reading and writing poems. Of course, I do that all the time. I’m hoping I can get you to join me. 

A poem can be a short comedy routine or a touching tribute; a rant or a rave. It’s a whole story in a small space—sometimes it’s an epic. Beowulf is a poem. Most of Shakespeare’s plays are largely poetry. It doesn’t have to rhyme—but it can if the poet desires it. I bet you know lots of little poems by heart without even realizing it. Most prayers are poetry. Do you say grace? That’s a poem before you eat—what a nice way to start a meal. 

We all know limericks, and other short poems. Many people have heard about the famous purple cow or the girl from Nantucket. Poetry pervades our culture. Even if you’ve blotted out every last smidgeon of the stuff from your bad experience in high school, I bet you know some poetry. Most song lyrics qualify. Some even rhyme. So you—yes you—may have some poetry memorized. I bet many of you could recite Stairway to Heaven or Mr. Tambourine Man right now, as well as the lyrics of other songs. Congratulations, my friends. You are all bards, sharing the oral heritage of our culture. 

Poetry has escaped the books and is being performed all over the country. Poets compete in contests called slams. Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins has animated poetry videos on YouTube. The form is evolving with the rest of the culture, and we as a people like this word music as much as we ever did. The web is a great resource for remembered gems and new finds. I love poetry, and I have favorites that have been with me for many years. Unlike other precious items, they don’t bend, break, melt or scratch. Good poetry is a prize forever. Who can pass that up? 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

70. Seek out some poetry, and share your finds with a friend. What kind of poetry do you like? What do you like about it? You get a virtual gold star if you sit down and write a little poem of your own.

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