Monday, May 08, 2006

There's something about poetry

Last week, I did a poetry program for a trade association. I began by asking how many people liked to read poetry. A few hands were raised. Slowly.

Then I asked how many of them either read or listened to poetry being read when they were young. Almost every hand lifted. Enthusiastically.

When I asked how many liked poetry, every hand went up.

My findings were in line with information collected by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of the magazine Poetry. Another finding that I have experienced: people search for poems to read at funerals, weddings and other special events. Every time I check stats for my blog, I find at least one search string with one or more of the following words: poetry, funeral, wedding, healing. Click on the title of this column above to read the entire report at the PF site.

Poetry is a bit like God. Maybe we turn to it when we need it.

During last week’s program, I spoke about the significance of poetry. It’s the key to our culture and our passion as well as our history. It’s the best method for teaching students critical thinking. In my opinion.

I told my audience they likely won’t find a poetry book at the front of a store—any poetry book. Most poetry is pubbed by small presses, and I don’t know very many of those that can buy display space at the rate of $10,000. I read poems from my forthcoming collection NOTES FROM A FLORIDA VILLAGE, and a poem or two from A POETRY BREAK.

By the time they left, those who shared their time with me were excited about poetry. My publisher was very happy with the program and the results.

I like to think they all frolicked off to read some.I meant to tell them to pick up a jug of wine and a loaf of bread.

Link of the week: Poetry Magazine.
If America has a defining poetry publication, this would be it.

Tip of the week: Visit The Writer for my Q&A with Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry. It should be posted sometimes this week. Thanks to Anne Halsey, media coordinator of the Poetry Foundation, for helping to facilitate the interview.

And while you're at The Writer, enter Poetry Spotlight II, a free contest I'm coordinating there.

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