Thursday, 6 October 2011

National Poetry Day!

from the film 'Dead Poets Society'

Today is All-Ireland National Poetry Day, hurray! Or as I like to call it - National Read-a-Poem Day. To appreciate, celebrate and relish poetry.

And before all you non-poetry-lovers out there scoff and squirm and bah-humbug me, just hear me out, quickly!

Reading a poem a day is like popping a vitamin for the soul. Yes, I've used this soundbite before but I'll say it again! Poetry is not some pompous pedestal of literature, but more a bouquet of life in bloom, for everyone, about everything. It's anything but pedantic. It's powerful. It could change your life. (If read on a continuous basis, most definitely. At an once-off, it might just change your viewpoint a little; open a window in your mind into a meadow of beautiful meaning.) 

Today is for celebrating poetry. Poetry reminds us of who we really are. It reminds us of what's important in this life. It stills time and quiets all the rabble-dabble-scrabble static of day-to-day detritus. It sieves through the mud of days and finds the gold beneath, presents to us the treasure in our midst. An alchemy that changes ordinary into extraordinary through the sparking flints of words. 

Open your mind to some poems today. And if your mind won't open (some are confusing I admit, but just like any puzzle, therein lies the fun!) - open your heart instead. Let the warmth and wisdom of the words flow into your heart and make life glow all a-glitter-and-golden with wonder for a short moment in time.

Give poetry a moment of your time today and it will give you so much more in return. You could start by reading below, or better yet, get yourself along to one of the many free poetry readings around the country today. At the very least it makes a change from the usual slog; it might just end up flipping the entire usual slog stuff into unusual and unique and something to whole-heartedly embrace.  

Go. Read, listen, enjoy!

poetry PR gal,

~ Siobhán.

First, for those of you afraid of a poem, don't be! Let go of worries and just let the poem say what it wants to say:

'Introduction to Poetry' - Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

And for us poetry lovers, the sheer delight of reading poems:

'Eating Poetry' - Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. 
There is no happiness like mine. 
I have been eating poetry. 

The librarian does not believe what she sees. 
Her eyes are sad 
and she walks with her hands in her dress. 

The poems are gone. 
The light is dim. 
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up. 

Their eyeballs roll, 
their blond legs burn like brush. 
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep. 
She does not understand. 
When I get on my knees and lick her hand, 
she screams. 

I am a new man. 
I snarl at her and bark. 
I romp with joy in the bookish dark. 

And lastly, the master craftsman of poetry, our Nobel Prizewinner, Seamus Heaney. Here, in one of my favourite of his poems, he explains what exactly poetry is capable of doing:

'Postscript' - Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west

Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.


  1. Dear Siobhan, Thank you for your visit and your compliments, you are so kind. I love poetry also, this why you post captured my interest. I believe we understand poetry with our soul, and as you mentioned some easier then others. I have found that I've matured into some of the poems that didn't make any sense in my youth. Have you read Mary Oliver's work? She is an American poet and a favorite of mine. This is one of hers:

    ~Yes! No! (2003)

    How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
    lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
    think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
    like a plum tree, holding up its white petals.

    The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like
    small dark lanterns.

    The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.

    How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
    looking at everything and calling out

    Yes! No! The

    swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals, wants
    only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
    is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
    rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
    than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
    and proper work.

  2. I do indeed know and love Mary Oliver! I have a few of her poems posted here on the site. I love 'The Journey' and 'Wild Geese' especially, but all her poems are beautiful and meaningful and I'm still discovering new ones. Thanks for this one, I really like it, especially the last line 'To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.' How true. Her poems echo in your head after reading them, and then find a permanent place in your heart. This line certainly does. Thanks! And very nice to 'meet' you Esther!


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