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Transactions with Beauty.
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- Shawna

 

 

Poem-a-Day Reading Challenge

Poem-a-Day Reading Challenge

If you're reading this blog, I probably don't have to sell you on the idea of reading a poem everyday. I've written about How to Find Your Next Poetry Fix and on the Transcendence of reading poetry in previous posts. 

Why read a poem every day? Poems inspire, they lead us to think about things we otherwise wouldn't think about. They are intense, they focus our thoughts, and they spark our imaginations. I've often talked about how I've been opening most staff meetings at my library branch with a poem. Teachers will often start a school day with a poem, which I think is a brilliant thing to do. Poems can be short. You can read them with your morning coffee or your afternoon tea. 

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I recently came across two new books that would make your search for a daily poem an easy one. Poem-a-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion is selected by the Academy of American Poets and is extremely satisfying. “Loosely organized according to the flow and themes of the seasons,” it's very easy to pick up and read a poem that you can carry with you through the day. In the intro to the book by Edward Hirsch, he says, “Poetry is a means of transport, taking us back in time, carrying us forward, lifting us up. It is a mode of thinking, a method of flight, an act of concentrated attention.” He also says, “Read one poem per day over the course of a year and you will find yourself befriended by poetry.” Which I think is a lovely thought indeed. 

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The next book I found is titled How Lovely the Ruins: Inspiration Poems and Words for Difficult Times. The forward to this volume is written by Elizabeth Alexander and she says, “Poems are how we say: this is who we are. Poems are heart and soul made legible. Poetry is ancient; poetry is the way peoples have carried their songs forward across culture and across time, saying this is who we are and this is where and what we come from. She also says:

“The wisdom and beauty of poems is all around us. Poets tilt their heads and swoop their butterfly nets to capture it, distill it, and give it to the people. Poems are handbooks for human decency and understanding. Poets hold water in their cupped hands and run back from the well because someone is parched and thirsting. The poem is a force field against despair.”

The beauty of challenging yourself to reading a poem every day, is that it is so do-able! If you want to take this challenge to the next level, you could read a poem and also write notes about it every day. Let me know what you think of this challenge in the comments. Perhaps you already read a poem a day and have a ritual around that. How has this changed things for you? Thanks for sharing. 

The poem is a force field against despair.
— Elizabeth Alexander
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