Tuesday, April 7, 2015

There's poetry in the water!

Friends! In case you weren't already aware, April is poetry month! Lately, I have been surrounded by people who believe with all of their heart that poetry saves lives, and I am beginning to see the light.

We were so lucky to have Naomi Shihab Nye here with us to kick off the celebration last week, and the party is just getting started. (I am still feeling the afterglow of her visit... Her book of poems, Honeybee, has been my constant companion these days.)

I am finding that poetry is alive all around us, sometimes in unexpected places. Over the weekend, I attended the loquat festival in New Port Richey where I was surprised to find a healthy community of literary enthusiasts. Part of the day was "O! Loquat!", a literary festival where people from all walks of life were invited to pen their odes to our favorite urban fruit and share them with the crowd. It was very special to hear people's poems about their favorite tree in the front yard, or in my case, to share a haiku about my favorite way to eat loquats - baked into a pie!

O! Loquat! poetry reading
And the poetry train continues! Today, my students and I were privileged to host poet-activists Amir Rabiyah and Tahani Salah, two inspiring poet-activists who use their art to confront important social issues such as racial and gender discrimination. They led a writing workshop that explored the theme of identity, which is a very interesting topic in our international classroom. (My students come from countries as far away as Oman, Venezuela, and China.) It was an awesome experience and I think everyone got a lot out of it, including myself.

I have been taking in all of these delicious poetic experiences, and even though I have always been a lover of poetry, I must say that I am developing a more intimate connection with the art form with every passing day. We will see what comes of this love affair - will it be just a fling? Or a life-long relationship?

 My advice to you? Take some time to dip your toe into the fun fountain that is poetry. Play with words, be kind to yourself , have no expectations, and see what happens. Language is your clay, so start sculpting!

 As Naomi said when she was here - write a poem on a postcard and send it to someone who might be surprised to hear from you. You never know how your words might touch a person's soul.