The world is full of poetry.
The air is living with its spirit;
and the waves dance to the music of its melodies,
and sparkle in its brightness.
~ James Gates Percival, American poet
I discovered contemporary poetry when I was working through 27 Wild Days, the wild writing course delivered by the perceptive Laurie Wagner. This poetry is nothing like Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” where you wander lonely as a cloud. This is the poetry of life in its rawness, emotions, and ordinariness. I was introduced to Maya Stein’s poem about being close to the bone, and words from Ellen Bass on marriage and Naomi Shihab Nye, whose poem “Valentine for Ernest Mann” was the jumping off point for my wild writing on Day 19.
These words from the second stanza resonated with me:
… So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them….
Poet-to-Poet: Naomi Shihib Nye Reads “Valentine for Ernest Mann”
from the Academy of American poets
And these are the words from my pages that day:
Poems hide in the deepest recesses of your mind, on the pages filled with your writing, on the hastily scribbled scraps of paper in your bag, on to-do lists. They hide in drawers and cupboards, in the car at the lights, when you’re alone with your thoughts. Poems hide in those notebooks you fill with ink, in your sketches, and on sticky notes. Hell, some of those sticky notes are poems. They’re in the sweet caresses and gentle kisses you’re gifted sometimes. That’s the poetry of life!
Poems are buried in the soil you’re working in the garden, in the cake you’re mixing for that family occasion, among the vegetables you’re chopping for your dinner. They’re in the grains of sand on the beach, in the foam of the waves you’re riding on your board, in cloud shapes, and in the leaves dancing in the wind of the giant Eucalypt in your yard. Poems are sneaky. They hide in places you least expect. In moments when you’re not paying attention. In the cutlery drawer.
You have to look out for them.
Poems hide everywhere but we don’t see or hear them sometimes because we’ve let the busyness of life take over and we close ourselves off — from the beauty of ordinary things; from finding joy in ordinary moments; from being present for our feelings. But if you open your eyes, your ears, your nostrils, and take a deep breath, you’ll find them. You can also send them into the world if your open your heart.
You’ll find them as you walk that winding path of life — in the rocks along the way that trip you up when you’re not paying attention, in gestures and smiles, and in conversations if you listen for them. Sometimes you only hear a couple of words, but that’s enough.
Poems are in the grass beneath your feet, in the distant views across the hills, in the smell of sunburnt grass and in the reeds growing in the dam. If you use your senses while you stay present and see the joy in ordinary moments — you’ll discover them. You may find more than you think. More beauty, more kindness, more grace, more love. This is the poetry of life.
These are some of the places where I find poems. I know that there are many other places when they can hide. So I hope that this reminder which I wrote for myself is a jumping off point for you to see the poetry in your life.