"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." ~Robert Frost

April is National Poetry Month, and what a wonderful reason to celebrate and honor the wonders of this art form! Although I read poetry in school when I was a child, as many people did, in all honesty I didn't really understand what many of the poems meant. During my teen years, while navigating turbulent times, I discovered the poetry of Rod McKuen, Bob Dylan, Emily Dickinson, Audre Lorde, William Carlos Williams, and many others, who just seemed to explain my feelings in an easy-to-understand way. Their poetry was what we now call 'accessible.'

What are your thoughts on poetry, and how do you remember your first exposure to it? I'd love to hear from you!

Creatively Yours,
Tracy K. Smith
U.S. Poet Laureate and Me
Poetry is the voice of the soul. Poets help us see a slice of the world in a way in which we might not have observed it before. They highlight details to cast a light on a feeling, an image, or an event. Poetry also helps offer insight into both the human psyche and human behavior, and it is a place where the imagination can roam free.

Writing and reading poetry can be a springboard to growth, healing, and transformation. When you read or write a good poem, you will be forever changed and not the same person you were before. The poems that change us the most are those that touch us intimately. 

Another advantage of reading and writing poetry is that it can improve your writing because it forces you to use images and figurative language that help writing come alive. Dylan Thomas said, “Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing!” (1952, p. xxii)

Reading and writing poetry also encourages a certain interconnectedness and helps to establish a sense of community between yourself and others. In other words, poetry can help us feel as if we are part of a larger picture and not just living in our isolated little world. We learn that other people have traveled similar journeys and have similar feelings about where they’ve been and where they’re going. “Reading poetry is a way of connecting through the medium of language—more deeply with yourself even as you connect more deeply with another. The poem delivers on our spiritual lives precisely because it simultaneously gives us the gift of intimacy and interiority, privacy and participation”
(Hirsch, 1999, p. 5).
  • Write about what poetry means to you.
  • Write a poem about your first love.
  • Write a poem about a childhood ritual.
  • April 22nd is Earth Day. Write an ode to something in nature.
" How to Quiet a Negative Inner Voice " (blog). Psychology Today. March 7, 2019.
"Musings on International Women's Day (essay). Thrive Global. March 8, 2019.
"Breast Cancer Warrior" (essay). National Cancer Survivor's Day. March 19, 2019.
" Bubbling Celebrations ." (poem). Poets Unlimited. March 20, 2019 .

The Writer's Notebook
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Life on Mars (poetry) by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

 While this is not a new poetry book, it was the 2012 winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and that's no surprise. The book is an elegy to life and death and everything in between. The book's title was inspired by Smith's father, who was one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. Smith's gratitude emanates on each page. There are so many wonderful poems, such as "The Good Life"—"When some people talk about money/They speak as if it were a mysterious lover/Who went out to buy milk and never/ Came back, and it makes me nostalgic/For the years I lived on coffee and bread,/Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday/Like a woman journeying for water/From a village without a well, then living/One or two nights like everyone else/On roast chicken and red wine" (p. 64).

I was blessed to recently have the pleasure of meeting Smith on her visit to Santa Barbara. Her warmth, compassion, and big smile make her one of those people one wants to read over and over again and certainly be in the company of.

Smith's poetry leaves a lot of room for reflection and pondering. Highly recommended.
These Many Rooms
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar (Santa Barbara Poet Laureate)

This new poetry collection is one that I read twice during the wee hours of the morning after it was gifted to me by the poet. My eyes were full of dry tears, and my heart felt both full and empty at the same time because Bosselaar's poetry gives us that. Her wisdom, sensitivity, and command for the poetic form is palpable on every page. The reader feels her vibrant mourning, as many of the poems are a tribute to Bosselaar's late husband, poet Kurt Brown, who was also a resident of Santa Barbara, California, where Bosselaar was just named Poet Laureate for 2019-2021.

Bosselaar's poetry is packed with emotions and raw feelings—words that beg for deep pondering. I'm grateful that she provides readers with lots of white space because one needs this breathing room to read her moving words. Bosselaar is a woman who finds solace in so little, but in so much, being grateful to simply wake up and smell the crispness of a new morning.

If you read this collection and have read her earlier works, you know that she understands loss and longing—themes of many of her poems. And, more than any other poet I know, she is able to convey this to her readers. Bravo! This is a collection not to be missed.
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