National Poetry Month: When Did You Stop Writing Poetry?

April 9, 2012

Mailbox on Greenwood Ave N

“We’re all poets when we’re little.”
— Naomi Shihab Nye

Are you a poet who doesn’t know it?

Have you ever tried writing poetry?  I have to admit that I am defeated by it.  But when I watched poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s short, humorous video on Poetry Everywhere, I was reminded by how naturally young children speak poetically because their minds and perceptions are still fresh, not jaded by clichés.

In her introduction, Nye quotes the poet William Stafford. When people asked him, “When did you become a poet?” he would respond, “That’s not the right question…The question is, ‘When did you stop being a poet?’”  Nye then reads words she collected from the mouth of her young son, every one a poetic observation.  You can link to the Nye video here.

When thinking about writing poems, I find the following quote helpful: “. . . poetry is a form of attention, itself the consequence of attention.”  (Donald Revell, The Art of Attention: A Poet’s Eye)  I may not write poems, but I hope that my photos and watercolor sketches are poetry’s equivalents. They are the consequence of my attentiveness to the natural world.

“Whatever things I perceive with my entire man — those let me record — and it will be poetry.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals (September 2, 1851)

P.S.  What a resource Poetry Everywhere is!!  Here you can see and listen to poets read their poems, for example Robert Frost reading “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”  I feel like a kid in a candy store at this website.  Enjoy!


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