If there’s one small regret I have in life it is that I don’t read enough poetry. This is also ironic because on some days I’m actually teaching this rather romantic subject. But teaching poetry to willing learners, usually just a small class of exceptional young women and men, and sitting in a quiet corner or on a park bench all by yourself, reading just a few lines of poetry are two different matters altogether. The aesthetic and esthetic results will be entirely different.
The effects of reading poetry in the manner desired as I’ve suggested in these opening lines is, of course, vastly different from everyday reading in our daily lives and in the jobs we have to do every day. It surpasses everything we’ve ever done before and, if you’ve never tried this before, it can be utterly uplifting, even at the worst of times. Most of us, even me, do not have access and knowledge on the scale of literary professors who can dig up any poem that comes to mind to align it with a coincidental event or emotion.
In my case, when I finally get to sitting down in that quiet corner – I have not yet progressed as far as the park bench, it’s quite far away from me – I usually have my poetry anthologies bookmarked. This bookmarking procedure is chronological and in page order. What happens is that I simply open the book to where I was last. If the book’s pages give me two or three poems, then I read them. If there’s just one, lengthy free-verse poem, I read that.
If there’s just one short poem no longer than four lines, and surrounded by lots of white space, then I read that one. I cover just those one or two pages then I set my book down and carry on with something else. And do you know what; you don’t need to be inspired by poetry alone. Many of you enjoy cooking, right? Now, imagine having a good collection of recipe books standing on a shelf above your cupboards in the kitchen. Perhaps you have no idea what you’re going to cook for dinner later in the day.
Your cooking chores can be turned into a most enjoyable and inspirational excursion for the day. If you have the luxury of those sort of flexible hours, many of us don’t; unfortunately, you could take your time preparing for a culinary and epoch-making event. You begin your day just as I described my poetry reading earlier. A random page inspires new, random thoughts, and before you know it, you’ve accomplished something unexpected. Imagine not having to rush about for supplies in between working hours.
Wouldn’t that be lovely? Anyway, the random page leads you to a recipe you may not have tried before. So, now that you are inspired and your taste buds have become curious, you start preparing as you meticulously note the details of the recipe’s ingredients. Now you need to go out and look for them. Your local supermarket may not have them, nor would they have the fresh ingredients the recipe recommends. So, off you go on a hunting mission, second to none.
Your day is made all the more enjoyable through talking with fruit and vegetable vendors on your town or city’s sidewalks (they’re usually the most reliable when it comes to sourcing fresh and less expensive produce). You’re also engaging with the butcher and his block man, giving him the specifications outlined in your recipe. You watch in admiration as the meat men expertly prepare your cuts to the required specifications. We have to go now, I’m afraid.
So let me close with one small poetry tip. Simply go to your internet server, look up a literary site specializing in poetry and create a prompt for each morning that you switch on your computer. And before you begin work proper, you are inspired with a thought for the day.