Guest Author - Jessica Smith
While poetry can certainly be enjoyed most anywhere and most any time, here are a few suggestions of some of the best and most entertaining/useful/relaxing places to read poetry.
If you take public transportation to work, then it's a great place to break out your poetry. A small book can help while away the transit time. Allow the pressing crowd around you to fade. Forget the early hour, the stress of the beginning work day. Let yourself be swept away by the words, forging a new world around you. If you don't want to carry a book, there are a variety of poetry podcasts which you can download to your mp3 player. Some podcasts discuss and analyze poetry, and others simply read it aloud. Find the ones you prefer, and make yourself a poetry playlist for the morning (and evening) rush hour.
Suggestions for in-transit poems:
“Bus Stop?by Donald Justice
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird?by Wallace Stevens
Suggestions for poetry podcasts:
Classic Poetry Aloud on iTunes
Poem of the Day on iTunes
Sometimes we just need a break in the middle of the day- from work, from people, from the world. A book of poetry can be the perfect lunchtime companion. How pleasant to imagine sitting at a cafe, sipping coffee or tea, your half-finished sandwich on the plate before you, a copy of Leaves of Grass in your hand. It offers an escape into another world, filled with imagery and beauty. Additionally, if you do decide you want company, it can be a great conversation-starter.
Poem suggestions for lunch:
“Ode to Tomatoes?by Pablo Neruda
“On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven?by Edna St. Vincent Millay
On the wall
Why restrict poetry to the interior of books? Choose one of your favorite poems, and hang it on the wall! You can place it in a frame, or beside a picture or photo. If you don't want to spring for the cost of a frame, choose some favorite lines to jot down onto a post-it note. Many writers write inspirational quotes and stick them to their computers. This way you can have lovely lines to glance at while you're working away and need a quick break, or a reminder, or a dash of inspiration or courage. These office decorations are also lovely conversation starters.
Inspirational poem suggestions:
“A Psalm of Life: What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist?by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“High Flight?by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
In a card
There's nothing nicer than opening your mail to find a card or letter from a friend. This small gesture can brighten even the darkest of days. Consider someone who is important to you, or who has done you a favor recently. Choose a few lines from an appropriate poem, and jot them into a blank card. Or, write a longer letter, and include the text from a longer poem. If you're feeling creative, you could even write a personal poem to that person. Creative gifts are often the most cherished. Another idea is to write to yourself. Choose a card and some poetry lines, address them to yourself in the future, and toss them in the mail. Think of the pleasant surprise of hearing encouragement from yourself down the road.
Suggestions for poems in cards:
“Somewhere I have never travelled?by e. e. cummings
“I carry your heart with me?by e. e. cummings
The outdoors is not only a great place to get away from it all, but an ideal setting for enjoying poetry. Nature poems, in particular, are best read in the environment that inspired them. If you feel like you need to step away and take a break from the hectic place of life, just choose a secluded yet comfortable outdoor spot, replace your cell phone with a book of poetry and abandon yourself to the words. Poetry is often a great addition to camping trips, and enjoyable to read aloud around the campfire. Sharing poetry is a great family activity. Reading outdoors may even inspire a poem of your own.
“Stopping by the River in Spring?by Mark Irwin
“Winter Uplands?by Archibald Lampman
In your head
Some may believe that memorizing poetry is merely an exercise for schoolchildren, but that is not true. You may forget your poetry book somewhere, or have your mp3 batteries die out during your poetry podcast, but you will always have your mind. By memorizing a few lines or even the entirety of a favorite poem, you guarantee that you carry it everywhere. You can recite it during a stressful moment on the subway, to allay boredom while standing in line at the bank, as a conversation-starter or to impress at a party, even to help yourself (or your child) drift to sleep at night. It doesn't take much, and the benefit entirely outweighs the cost.
Suggestions: Start with short poems before working up to longer works. Rhyming poems, and those with a strong rhythm, are more quickly and easily memorized.
“Relativity?by A. H. Reginald Bueller (a limerick)
“A Parable?by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle