Stanza. Rhyme. Allegory. Imagery. Motif. These terms are often used by academia to refer to poetry.
But more than anything, a poem expresses one’s most private feelings, secrets and desires.
Across time, poetry has been used for a wide range of purposes. Aside from being a means of communication between lovers, poetry has been used to tell important stories, as well as to pass down historical and cultural information.
Jamie Moon of Duke University’s The Chronicle writes:
“In a world overflowing with media—flashy images, instant streaming videos, snarky updates in 140 characters or less—poetry may appear a bit outdated. It often requires a greater depth of attention that people think they’ve outgrown. Yet, the subtlety of poetry still remains powerful for many .”
America celebrates National Poetry Month every April. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, this month brings publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.
Here’s a selection of good finds from Poetry.org, the Academy of American Poets’ website:
– An animated poem, “The Catch” by A.E. Stallings.
– And a crowdsourced website of people reading their poems out loud.
– Daily inspiration from “A Poem-a-Day”
– And the featured poem, “Our Valley” by Phillip Levine:
We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.
You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.
You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.