April 1st, 2013
On the official starting day of National Poetry Month we start off our celebration with a post from Rose Cappelli, coauthor of Poetry Mentor Texts. She asks — and answers — the question: Why poetry? What is it about poetry that captures our mind, heart, and spirit? Why are you celebrating and sharing poetry this month?
After her mother died, Caroline Kennedy published The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In the foreword she states: “One of the greatest gifts my brother and I received from my mother was her love of literature and language.” Mrs. Onassis encouraged her children to read widely, and she often shared with them the books and poems she loved best. Caroline and John Kennedy were also encouraged by their mother to choose or write a favorite poem to give as holiday or birthday gifts for family members. What a wonderful tradition!
Poetry can help us share our thoughts, feelings, wishes, and dreams. With poetry, we can make things that seem small and insignificant into big ideas that help us make sense of the world. The perfect poem can help us express our emotions in the most eloquent of ways. One of my favorite poets is E. E. Cummings. I remember reading many of his poems in college and copying them onto small scraps of paper that I would eventually find tucked into books and notebooks, or perhaps in a pocket or purse. Most recently I included a copy of e.e. Cummings’s “i carry your heart with me” in the Valentine card I gave my husband. It was the perfect sentiment expressed in the perfect way, and I certainly couldn’t have said it any better than Cummings did.
Sharing poems with others is a special gift. A poem can provide comfort in difficult times when it is often hard to find the right words, or help a friend understand what you are feeling, or perhaps just bring out a smile or a laugh. Poetry can create memories passed on and shared through generations. The rhythms and rhymes of poems can help young children appreciate and develop a love of language that will serve them well throughout their schooling and beyond.
Caroline Kennedy put together two additional poetry collections: A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children and She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems. Over the years she has kept poems given to her and passed them on to others. “To me,” she writes, “that’s the gift of poetry—it shapes an endless conversation about the most important things in life.”
What poem will you share today?