"Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness."
~Alice Walker

Happy April and it's no joke that we're celebrating National Poetry Month! As a poet, I celebrate poetry every day; however, I love the unity of an intense sharing of poetry and the poetic life all concentrated into one month. As I mention in my book, Writing for Bliss, poetry is the voice of the soul. Poets help to see a slice of the world in a way in which we might not have observed it before. They might 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 also 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.

I hope you take some time this month to honor the beauty of poetry, and share its love and kindness with others. Here's one of my favorite poems:

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Write a poem teaching someone to do something.
  • Read some work of a favorite poet and write to explore what you like about their poetry.
  • Create a list poem about all the things you love.
  • Write a letter to your younger self.
April 18, 2023
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
“Writing for Bliss: What’s Your Story?”
Yoga Soup
Santa Barbara, CA
$45 / $35 pre-sale

To register: click here


April 19, 2023
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
“Spirits in the Air: Potent Potable Poetry”
Santa Barbara, CA


May 18, 2023
Montecito Bank and Trust
M Club
"Writing for Bliss"
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
By invitation only


June 18-23, 2023
"Writing a Compelling Memoir"
Santa Barbara Writers Conference
Santa Barbara, CA

To register: click here

"Spring Is For Transformation." (article) Medium. March 22, 2023.

“Are You A Woman Who Fosters Healing and Hope?" (article) The Good Men Project. March 23, 2023.
Poetry As Survival: Poets on Their Art and Craft (nonfiction)
by Gregory Orr

Published in 2002, this remains a classic book explaining the power of poetry to comfort us during challenging times, and how poetry can help us transcend all sorts of suffering. Orr's lovely introduction addressed an issue I often talk about: that as poets we hate that poetry often intimidates people, in spite of the fact that poetry is omnipresent on our planet and that lyric poetry has been written and composed in every ancient or historical culture. The point is that writing and reading poetry is connected to our emotional lives and sense of well-being.
The Hurting Kind (poems) by Ada Limón

This recent collection by the current poet laureate of the United States was one that I was unable to put down. Limón's poetry reads like the most beautifully flowing river and touches the reader's heart on many levels. While we experienced completely different childhoods, she did a masterful job of holding my hand and walking me through her life. Her parents separated when she was young and she was shuffled between them. But, she confesses that she always felt loved--something that nourished her as a budding poetess.

Despite Limón enduring many challenges on her journey, Vanity Magazine calls her "a bright light in a dark time." I loved each poem more than the next, and it was difficult to pick one favorite. However, here's a short example of her work:

Calling Things What They Are

I like to call things as they are.
Before, the only thing I was
interested in was love, how it grips
you, how it terrifies you, how it
annihilates and resuscitates you. I
didn't know then that it wasn't
even love that I was interested in
but my own suffering. I thought
suffering kept things interesting.
How funny that I called it love and
the whole time it was pain.
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