Weekend Reading: Poetry


Written by Willow Gale, Bookmobile Manager

It’s National Poetry Month! (No April Fool!) The power of poetry is too often overlooked. With the bookmobile, I visit many senior communities, some of which include “memory care” units. The residents there may not be able to tell you what they ate for breakfast, but start reading a poem by Robert Frost and you’ll hear them reciting along with you, word for word. Poems express emotions, create songs, inspire imagery, and show us the beauty of language.

Here are a few collections that may be of interest:

Good Poems for Hard Times edited by Garrison Keillor – Originally put together in response to 9/11, this collection is part of Keillor’s Good Poems series (Good Poems and Good Poems, American Places). The poems will inspire us, lift our spirits, help relieve stress, and console us all in these (continuing) uncertain times. And they’ll remind us of the grace in everyday life.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am edited by Elise Paschen – The collection brings together over 100 poems intended for teens, with selections by Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe, Billy Collins, and Sherman Alexie among many others. A nice bonus is the CD with some of the poems being read by the poets themselves.

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka – Although it’s considered a children’s book, this is a great place for anyone to start one’s poetry education. Page by page, each style of poem is defined, given an example, and enhanced by Raschka’s vibrant illustrations. Who knew there were so many types of poems? (And, personally, I’ve always wondered who got to name these various types – a clerihew sounds like a bird to me and a double dactyl was perhaps a neighbor of a triceratops). A Kick in the Head is a fun way, for all ages, to get involved with poetry.

She Walks in Beauty selected by Caroline Kennedy – Subtitled “A Woman’s Journey Through Poems,” this is another wonderful compilation by Caroline Kennedy. She’s grouped the poems under headings that reflect the passages of women’s lives: “Love Itself,” “Work,” “Beauty, Clothes and Things of the World,” “Silence and Solitude,” “Growing Up and Growing Old,” “Death and Grief,” “Friendship,” and more. A lovely collection!

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