Example poetry

EDITORIAL: The power of poetry in our lives | Editorial

THE FREE STAR LANCE:

WHEN it comes to reading, books no longer hold the weight they once did with American readers. The reasons vary, but the time required to read a book certainly has something to do with it.

Perhaps that’s why “beach readings” are so popular. For many of us, the holidays are the only time we have to commit to a tome that may take several days to complete.

However, none of this means that Americans are becoming less literate. In fact, it may be just the opposite that is happening. In recent years, we are happy to report, poetry has quickly become the genre of choice. Especially for those under 34.

There are many reasons for the renewed interest. The typically shorter length of poetry fits well with social media platforms like Instagram. It also appeals to our short attention span. Get Carl Sandberg’s multi-volume history of Abraham Lincoln into someone’s hands and, well, good luck getting them to read it.

People also read…

But few people will not spend 5 or 10 minutes digging into his poem “Chicago”:

Pork butcher for the world,

Tool maker, wheat stacker,

Player with the nation’s railroads and freight handler;

city ​​of big shoulders

The brevity of the poetry, however, is deceptive. Once a person clings to a poem they love, the words become a beard. We remember them with the ease with which we remember the words to our favorite songs. And we carry them with us throughout our lives.

These days, poetry is hooking young minorities like never before in recent memory.

An October 2021 story in CNN points to Amanda Gorman, who read her poem during the inauguration of President Joe Biden, as an example of the wave of people of color embracing poetry. She is not alone, and writers like Rupi Kaur and Hanif Abdurraqib, Don Mee Choi and Reginald Dwayne Betts, winners of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Fellowship”, are very much her equal.

The New York Times has taken note of the trend, recently highlighting 10 young black poets who are gaining notoriety for their work.

Of the group described by The Times, author Maya Phillips wrote in the introduction: “These young June Jordans and Robert Haydens, who are young poet laureates, organizers and rappers, examine and fight an America that threatens to swallow them.

“’The smoke in Oakland has hands,’ writes Leila Mottley, painting a landscape populated by sneering men, attacking the streets, smoke and ash. It’s true: our world is on fire, but these writers are brave, fearless.

It’s an incredibly encouraging move. Poetry, after all, is a language of the heart. We don’t read it as much as we experience it.

Robert Pinsky, who was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, said poetry is a “physical” art form. It is not intended to be read passively. To experience poetry, you have to read it aloud, move your body and feel the power of words.

And the best thing about poetry is that anyone can write it.

Amateur historian Frank White of Stafford recently self-published “Frank’s Homemade Poems from the Heart”.

He, like the young people described above, was addicted to poetry very early in life.

His collection contains writings from when segregation was still the law of the land, and includes love letters between him and the woman who would become his wife. As well as her love poems for him.

We also see how the struggle for integration has also shaped it. In “The Day They Marched,” White mentions the March on Washington in 1963, before delving into the march that defined his life:

In June 1950, a march took place

With a completely different clientele

Now 50 miles south of the DC line

In Fredericksburg, Virginia, this time

Martin Luther King’s march and speech moved a nation. But it was the 1950 Walker-Grant School graduates of Fredericksburg who dared to march to the town’s community center, where they were denied entry, and then to Old Shiloh Church in the city ​​for their graduation ceremony which moved Frank White.

His poems allow all of us, if only for a few lines, to feel what he felt at that time.

Whether our poems lead to a Pulitzer Prize or a self-published book is not really the question.

Where there is poetry, there is life, passion and hope.

Well done, Frank. Your words and your presence have put their hooks in the community.


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