Thursday, June 1, 2017

Five for Friday: What is Poetry?


Felix E. Guerrero


What is poetry? 

I'm still learning the answer to that question... and that's okay. If I spend a lifetime pondering, it will be time well spent. 

Here's one thing I do know:
Like any art, poetry needs space and time to breathe. It can pop up when you least expect it, but you have to be present to notice and available to answer the call.

"We find poetry" by Vida Dimovska


Back in January, I announced that my one little word for 2017 is Change. I talked about building up my core and balance, and trusting that the chaos I felt at the time was exactly where I needed to be.

Six months later, how am I doing?

Well, I still feel like that fearful girl on the ski slope more than I'd like. The difference is that I'm old mature enough now to recognize that hiding out is probably not the best alternative. Instead, I've focused on saying yes to Change.


"Birth of a butterfly" by Pat Ronan


Dr. Elif Akçali taught me the value of saying yes when I heard her speak at the Convening Cultures conference earlier this year. By the way, I almost didn't go to that conference... I had to push myself to say yes. How could I afford NOT to go? It was taking place in my home town, for goodness sake. If nothing else, I get to step out of my routine for a couple days. And who knows? Maybe I'd find poetry there, or an opportunity I wouldn't have otherwise known about.

On the second day of the conference, after a transformative keynote with Lily Yeh, I sat at an empty lunch table waiting to see who might join me. As it turns out, it was some local folks (the first locals I had met in two days) who ran a theater company and did educational programs with children. I asked if they ever included poetry in their programs. Their eyes lit up. No, they didn't have the skill set for that, but they'd like to. We exchanged numbers.

I'm thrilled to be conducting seven different poetry workshops with them this summer! This is something I've pursued again and again through the schools with no luck. Apparently it took opening myself up to something new, and allowing the opportunity to come to me the way it wanted to. Isn't life amazing?


"Street Poetry" by Julen Ruiz Luzuriaga


There will be other "firsts" for me this summer as well, like the first time attending ILA in Orlando. (Anyone else going to be there on Sunday, 7/16?) Also, the first time we'll be visiting prospective colleges for my 17 year old. (Can anyone recommend a great resource for finding scholarships?)

Plus, my new ditty committee is already hard at work choosing poems for THE BEST OF TODAY'S LITTLE DITTY, 2016!

Change has told me in no uncertain terms that this is going to be my last blog post for a while. I'll be taking the summer off to be present with these new endeavors. Maybe I'll even write some poetry—what a novel idea that is!

But enough rambling about me.

Here's what I have for YOU today: 
five of my favorite quotes about poetry. 




Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers.  

~ Yevgeny Yevtushenko

* * * 

A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin.

~ Edmond de Goncourt

* * *

The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.

~ James Fenton

* * * 

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting.

~ Robert Frost

* * * 

If you can’t be a poet, be the poem. 

~ David Carradine


And a few more of your favorites . . .


Poetry is tricky to explain and different each time.

~ Kindergarten students in Christie Wyman's classroom

* * * 

Poetry should be like fireworks, packed carefully and artfully, ready to explode with unpredictable effects.
~ Lilian Moore

* * *

I read poetry to save time.

~ Marilyn Monroe 

* * * 

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.

~ Carl Sandburg

* * * 

A good poem can frame agony and hang it on the wall.

~ Charles Bukowski, from "Defining the Magic"
(Read the rest of the poem HERE.) 

* * * 

Always be a poet, even in prose.

~ Charles Baudelaire 

* * *  

Poetry is frosted fire.

~ J. Patrick Lewis

* * * 

Well, write poetry, for God's sake, it's the only thing that matters.

~ e. e. cummings

* * *

Poetry isn’t a profession; it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.

~ Mary Oliver

* * * 

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

~ T. S. Eliot

* * * 

Poetry lies its way to the truth.

~ John Ciardi

* * * 

The minimum requirement for a good poem is a miracle.

 ~ John Ciardi


There are so many inspiring quotes about poetry! If you leave me your favorites in the comments, I'll collect them here. That way we can return to them all summer long like a tall, bottomless glass of lemonade.


Brett Davis

Cheers to a wonderful summer!



Many thanks to everyone who contributed a poem for Melissa Manlove's DMC challenge last month. At least seven or eight more poems were added to the wrap-up celebration since last Friday, so I hope you'll have another look.

Random.org has determined that the winners of LOVING VS. VIRGINIA and LOVE IS are . . .

Diane Mayr and Kay McGriff.


Thanks to Buffy Silverman for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup.






53 comments:

  1. Change is hard for me too. Like you, I chose it for my olw this year. Your poetry workshops sound exciting! Good for you for saying, "Yes!" Thanks for the poetry quotes. They are some of my favorites! Have a great summer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful story. I know how that feels---trying to be open to opportunity despite the fear. Your question on "what is poetry?" reminded me of recent picture book I read called "This is a poem that heals fish." I'm not sure if you know it, the little boy goes around asking people 'what is a poem?" and he gets these wonderful answers that reminds us that indeed poetry just shows up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard of "This is a poem that heals fish," but haven't read it. Now I really want to find a copy! Thanks for stopping by, Iphigene.

      Delete
  3. Thanks, Michelle, for the inspiration. I hope you enjoy and are refreshed by your time "off"--change is such good inspiration for poetry! I'm sure you'll write beautiful poems to chronicle your journeys this summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope so. :) Have a wonderful summer, Rebekah!

      Delete
  4. Your topic is quite timely for me, Michelle. I have immersed my Kindergarteners in reading and writing poetry all year. My principal stopped by for her last walk through of the year and sat at a table where several students were writing poetry at choice time. (How much do I love that they choose to write poetry even when there are lots of other options?!) After asking them what they were working on, she asked what poetry is. They said it was tricky to explain and that it was different each time. Good answer! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Christie! I am returning to the classroom this fall, teaching kindergarten, after being in instructional coach in my building for three years. I recently began dipping my toe into poetry with the help of a friend, Margaret Simon, who I met through Twitter. would love to connect before and about your journey this past year coaching your kinders about poetry! I blog at doingtheworkthatmatters.com

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure if Christie will see your comment here, Dani. She's over at https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/my-poetry-bro-poetryfriday/

      Delete
    3. Christie, how I'd love to sit and watch your class in action! Their definition of poetry is perfect. :)

      Delete
  5. I'm thrilled to have won one of the two delightful picture books! Many thanks. Here are two favorite poetry quotes:

    Poetry should be like fireworks, packed carefully and artfully, ready to explode with unpredictable effects.
    Lilian Moore

    I read poetry to save time.
    Marilyn Monroe

    Have a great fulfilling summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are great quotes, Diane! I knew I could count on you for a couple of goodies. :)

      Delete
  6. Cheers to your YES, Michelle. You are both poet and poem. Wishing you a beautiful summer, my friend. Lucky kids to have you sharing poetry with them! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thank you, Irene. :) And thank you for allowing me to share your beautiful poem in one of the sessions! xo

      Delete
  7. Would be happy to talk with you about financial aid stuff! I'll email you. That is very serendipitous re: the seating at the conference! Good for you for stretching yourself. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the financial aid info, Tabatha! xo
      And yes, it is amazing what can happen when you leave the door open, isn't it?

      Delete
  8. Wonderful news for your coming workshops, Michelle. Congratulations for that, for following your OLW, Change. Have a wonderful summer in every way that you can! One favorite quote: “Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.” Sandburg Thanks for all you do to inspire us in poetry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you suggested that quote, Linda! It's one of my faves too. In fact, you're the one who first introduced me to it on one of your blog posts. I was hoping you would mention it since I was limiting myself to just five. :)

      Delete
  9. Change is a powerful word, Michelle. In your case, it proved its calling to be transformative. May your summer be filled with wonders as you embark on a new venture. I am collecting all the quotes you shared and hope to share as a treasure trove of inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Carol. I hope your summer is filled with wonders too. A new grandchild is a great place to start. :)

      Delete
  10. Yay, you! Have a great summer away from blogging! We'll miss you, but since you'll be doing fabulous poetry work, I guess we'll let you go!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Woo hoo! Enjoy your new adventures this summer. We will miss you but will look forward to hearing about it when you return. Some of my favorite quotes on poetry come from Charles Bukowski's poem "Defining the Magic." They are all good, but my favorite line today is "a good poem can frame agony and/hang it on the wall." You can read the rest of the poem here: http://www.slimcoincidence.com/blog/?p=1642

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kay. What a great line! Another one I like is "a good poem can make a broken mind fly."

      Delete
  12. If you can't be a poet, be the poem--hmmm, that sounds like a wonderful way to live. Yes to new adventures and saying yes (although watch it...saying yes sometimes leads to pokemon and mario. How about mostly saying yes?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Buffy. When it comes to pokemon and mario, sometimes we have to draw the line. ;)

      Delete
  13. Yay to Yes! Kwame Alexander also encouraged us to say YES! at the SCBWI conference. It was the same weekend he won the Newbery. He went out and bought a new suit, of the color: Newbery Blueberry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right! I remember him tell of that Newbery Blueberry suit. He also alluded to the power of yes when he visited Today's Little Ditty. (https://michellehbarnes.blogspot.com/2015/04/spotlight-on-kwame-alexander-dmc.html) When asked what he would tell all the world's children, he said "We'd chant "YES" over and over."

      Delete
  14. Congratulations on getting to teach those poetry workshops this summer!! I wish I knew a good scholarship source. Son1 got the National Merit award for scoring high on the PSAT and then he only applied for scholarships at the university he chose to attend so I don't know what is out there nationally.

    Have a wonderful summer break from TLD! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Teresa. I'm sure we'll figure out all this financial aid business eventually!

      Delete
  15. I'm so excited for your poetry workshop and ILA opportunities, Michelle!! Have a marvelous summer, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kudos to you for choosing change -- congrats on your upcoming workshops. Sounds like you have a productive, interesting summer ahead. Thanks for all the great poetry quotes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Change is a slippery fish though, isn't it? Hope you have a great summer planned too, Jama!

      Delete
  17. I love the quotes. You will be missed this summer, but I wish you luck with all of your endeavors.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wise words from Baudelaire for writers: "Always be a poet, even in prose." You do that, Michelle, and you'll be able to pass it on to your new, lucky students. Enjoy your new adventure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wise words indeed! I'll be taking those words with me on my adventure. Thanks, Stephanie.

      Delete
  19. What an exciting summer! I hope you will pop in and share some this summer. Love the quotes, especially from Mrs. Wyman's students. Will you be at NCTE? Gosh, I wish we could meet face to face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Though it's pretty unlikely to happen in Missouri for NCTE, I trust our paths will cross sooner or later, Margaret! I look forward to that day. :)

      Delete
  20. What a wonderful exciting time. Congratulations on being brave and leaving space for new opportunities. Such a lovely selection of quotes, too.

    My personal favourites;
    * A good poem can frame agony and hang it on the wall.
    ~ Charles Bukowski, from "Defining the Magic"

    I too love Mrs Wyman's kindergarten kids thoughts;
    * Poetry is tricky to explain and different each time.

    And this is most definitely a mantra to write by!
    * Always be a poet, even in prose.
    ~ Charles Baudelaire

    Enjoy your time to recharge and focus on creative opportunities. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish the same for you, Kat... time to recharge, I mean. Don't burn out with all those exciting goings on of yours!

      Delete
  21. Great blog post, Michelle! And many congrats on getting that gig with the theatre company. Way to go out of your comfort zone. Look at the results! BARNES POWER!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Charles. I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from you when it comes to stepping out of the comfort zone!

      Delete
  22. Michelle, congrats on saying yes and opening doors to new possibilities. (I can relate to the reluctance to do that!) I hope to read about your summer experiences at some point. How exciting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Molly. I just hope they go well enough that I have something positive to share! ;)

      Delete
  23. Sounds like some wonderful new challenges this summer, enjoy them all Michelle, and some poetry writing too!
    How about this, "Well, write poetry, for God's sake, it's the only thing that matters." – e. e. cummings

    and one more

    "Poetry isn’t a profession; it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that." – Mary Oliver

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These quotes are wonderful, Michelle. Thanks for helping to fill my basket. :)

      Delete
  24. SCHOLARSHIP opportunities!!!
    https://www.goodcall.com/scholarships/
    Used to be called www.schoolsoup.com, but I don't see that now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent! I knew there must be something like that out there. Thanks so much, Donna!

      Delete
  25. Have a wonderful summer, Michelle! Thanks for these beautiful quotes. Here are a few more:
    Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. - T.S.Eliot
    Poetry lies its way to the truth. - John Ciardi
    and my favorite:
    The minimum requirement for a good poem is a miracle. - John Ciardi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are great, Monica! I was familiar with Ciardi's "Poetry lies" quote, but not your favorite. Ain't that the truth! Have a wonderful summer. :)

      Delete
  26. Well, its only June 17th and I miss you enough to come back to TLD for a refill. When I get stuck on where to begin....this is one of my favorite places. And, the quotes are just perfect. I hope you are having a wonderful summer of time to write and be the poem.

    ReplyDelete