In her book, Write a Poem, Save Your Life: A Guide for Teens, Teachers, and Writers of All Ages, Meredith Heller says, “We can find poetry everywhere, if we know how to look and how to listen. Poetry lives in the simplest things, in the is-ness of an object, in the relationship between people, in nature, in light and shadow…” (p.87).
As soon as I read those words, I thought, She’s right! And I can prove it. For example:
A week ago, my writing accountability partner and I challenged each other to write at least one poem--any topic, any length, any form. When we met (via Zoom) one week later, I read a poem (see below) I’d written about new insights regarding my elementary school experiences that had taken place over 60 years ago. Debi read her poem about walking through weeds and climbing over fences the day she searched for (and found!) the long-forgotten grave of an ancestor.
The day we read our poems to each other, I had not come across Meredith Heller’s words I mentioned above. But when I read them a few days later, I knew she was absolutely correct in saying, “Poetry lives in the simplest things.” And, as she also says, “We must know how to look and listen.” In other words, we must learn to observe—-learn to notice things and learn to hear things. And, as I’m also discovering, we must learn to reflect on the information our five senses bring to our awareness. Learn to ask ourselves: What does this additional information mean? How does it relate to something else I already know? How should I use it?
Those are essential skills to develop--whether or not we write a poem.
(Written by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill on February 2, 2022, in response to the writing prompt: "I remember…")
Note: I doubt I’ll ever be a poet laureate, but I do have such fun and gain new insights when I write poetry!