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“I felt it shelter to speak to you.”  Emily Dickinson

From the time we are children, we long to have a voice.  We tap our mother on the shoulder, interrupt conversations of adults around us, trying to gain their attention to be heard in a meaningful way. There is no doubt that most of the time humans are social creatures needing to connect with others in more ways than texts messages, and waves from afar can fulfill.   That being said, I think we can all agree, that dealing with C0VID- 19 and social distancing has been a true struggle. 

So, it is no surprise that finding ways to cope, vent, and speak out the lonely conversation in our head has for many transitioned into poetry.  It is another way of connecting and communicating in a meaningful way.  Poetry does dig a little deeper, makes us think with our heart, and can often speak both softer and louder, but always imparts a gift from the writer to the reader, that other writing forms do not always provide.   Yes, people are sharing their thoughts, and raw emotions, and others are longing to listen.  As a result, poetry in itself has become infectious, and its popularity is spreading.

A great representation of the rise in the warm recognition of poetry can be found on the show, America’s Got Talent.  The 2020 winner was not a singer, nor comedian, but the spoken-word poet, Brandon Leake.  He was also the first poet to advance to the finals.  Then we have Amanda Gorman, another wonderful example of this trend in poetry.   She is this year’s poet Laurette and is the youngest ever in history to speak at a presidential inauguration ceremony.  Her bold and inspiring reading of her poem “The Hill We Climb” was moving and spoke to people across the globe.

Amanda Gorman speaking at anauguation.

Along with rising poetic stars like Brandon and Amanda, we also have had an increase in poetry anthologies with American poets responding to life in the pandemic, and the solitude of the times.  There is Living on COVID Time, compiled by Story Circle Network, And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again: Writers from Around the World On the COVID-19 Pandemic edited by Ilan Stavans, Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic by Alice Quinn, and  Poetic Medicine in the Time of Pandemic: A collection of Poems from Around the World by Dawn H. LiAnthologies are a beautiful collaboration of poetry, and a wonderful representation of voices coming together in good times and in bad.

The longing to connect and be truly heard goes much further back than the isolation of a world pandemic in 2020.  For ages poetry has been a way that some have conveyed their perils, ponderings, and thoughts on life with the world.  Their names are known across the globe and lines of their poetry are well known quotes.  Here are some examples most of us know:  Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is a thing with feather”, Robert Frost’s “Two roads diverged in a wood”, and John Donne and “No man is an island”.  These well-known lines prove words linger and have a certain power that can both burn and build a bridge.

Shakespeare statue in Mercer Botanic Gardens

 

 So, my words to you today are this: if you long to be heard in a meaningful and broader way, be a poet.  There are many avenues out there to get your poetic thoughts heard. There are countless blogs in Blogger and WordPress with poetry communities for prompts and sharing.  There is online media like Instagram and Facebook. Library virtual writing groups in Harris County like, Scribe Tribe Writing group at the Tomball Branch, Word Crafters at Baldwin Boettcher Branch. and Web Design and Blogging on WordPress for Beginners at the Freeman Branch.  There is a pandemic poetry anthology taking contributions right now at Trainriver.org where you can share a poem of your feelings about COVID-19 and how it has affected our life.  Celebrate April and National Poetry Month by being a poet, even if it is the only poem you ever write, you will never know if you enjoy it until you do it!  Like trying Brussel sprouts for the first time, you may hate it, and then again, you may love it, but you will never know until you open your mouth and pick up your pen.  Be a poet everyone!

Here is a selection of general poetry and pandemic related anthologies; 

Click on the book for more details.
Together in a Sudden Strangeness

 

And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again

 

Deaf American Poetry an Anthology

 

The Weight of Addition: An Anthology of Texas Poetry

 

Post Modern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology

 

Indivisible Poems for Social Justice

 

We Rise We Resist We Raise Our Voices

 

A Childs Anthology of Poetry

 

For those of you that really want to dive into poetry, and have your voice heard across the world wide web; here are some great poetry community prompt blogs: Click on the title to see it for yourself, and get inspired!

1. Poets &  Storytellers United

2. dVerse - Poets Pub 

3.  The Sunday Muse

4.  earthweal

5.  The Sunday Whirl

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