April is National Poetry Month. I am just back in town from a weekend at the Lost River Retreat Center in the beautiful West Virginia mountains. It is there where I co-lead the Poets&Writers&Artists Retreat twice a year.
And I have returned newly inspired to encourage you, Dear Reader, to find a path that is creative in order to feel better. I am a poet and I passionately believe that reading and writing poetry can impact and sometimes, even significantly change how you experience your life.
Poetry is a creative practice like any art. You have to give it time. You have to practice.
I’ve been asked — What’s the point of reading or writing poetry?
1. Poetry can be beautiful and inspiring. It can make you think about life in a new way. A phrase from a poem can stick in your mind as you walk through your day and get you moving in new and better directions.
2. Reading and writing poetry strengthens your brain. The left hemisphere, where words live, has to cross the midline to the right hemisphere to ask “what does this mean” and “how do I feel about it” because feeling and meaning live in the right side of the brain. That means the left and right sides are now joined and cooperating and listening to each other. You might even engage the cerebral cortex (think forehead) to step in with “so what might I do about that or how does this change things for me?”
3. Poetry requires focus and paying attention. Both of these skills, when given time and intensity, make you feel better. Poetry brings you into the present moment where life resides. You might find some inspiration on Garrison Keillor’s website, The Writer’s Almanac, where you can learn about poets and poetry. You can sign up to have an email sent to you every day and even read aloud to you for your pleasure.
4. Poetry helps to make sense of life. I write poems to help me figure out what I think about something significant, now — or in my past. And I am always listening for a phrase or looking to observe a scene for a oh-gotta-write-a-poem-about-that moment.
I self-published my first poetry book, “No Sins of Omission” in October 2014.
Despite the fact that it has turned me into a shameless self-promoter, I am proud of my work and I want to share the ten years of creative endeavor and love that went into making this book. You can find it on Amazon here.
I will leave you with this poem I wrote after hiking near Lost River that gets at what I’ve been talking about. Thank you for reading and please come back to my website later this month to check in on creativity and ways to get unstuck.