“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”
In honor of National Poetry Month, I plan to devote some of my April posts to the wonderful world of poetry. You probably know by now that I’m a bit of an obsessive reader. I crave the feeling that Emily Dickinson so eloquently described. While reading novels, short stories, and even nonfiction can be incredibly moving, a poem’s tightly woven package of dense imagery and intense emotion transcends all other forms of literature. These days, when strict forms, meter, rhyme, and even the use of line breaks have fallen by the wayside, it seems that the core emotional experience of poetry is nearly the only thing that has stood the test of time.
Of course, there are still writers who use forms, meter and rhyme, and readers who love to read their poems. I love traditional poetic forms and conventions, but I don’t shy away from free verse and prose poems, either. I keep coming back to poetry for one thing: that feeling that “no fire can warm me.” When a great poem moves you, there’s nothing that can surpass or obliterate that experience.
Throughout the month, I’ll share some of my favorite lines, and discuss some of my favorite poems and poets. Check out all of my posts on poetry, and check back throughout the month for more posts in this series. If you’re already a lover of poetry, let me know what you’ve been reading. Share some of your favorite lines, poems and writers in the comments.
If you’d like to honor National Poetry Month, check out the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, or visit Poetry Daily‘s digital anthology of contemporary poetry. You might also head over to The Writer’s Almanac, where you can sign up for the daily newsletter or listen to Garrison Keillor’s daily broadcast of literary history and a reading of the day’s selected poem. Finally, the Academy of American Poets has put together a list of 30 ways to celebrate national poetry month, if you’re looking for more ways to revel in the wonderful world of poetry.