A Poem a Day


I've taken up a new discipline to go along with my Bible reading, and prayer and meditation. I am reading a poem a day. Right at the moment I am working my way through a volume of poems by Billie Collins, former poet laureate of the United States. It all happened because one day in doing some research for a sermon I came across an exquisite poem, which really prompted me to stop and think about its meaning--and ultimately about meaning in general. I realized, as much as a love poetry (I have quite a few volumes of it), as much as I enjoy writing poetry (I've even had a poem or two published), I just don't read enough of it. So I vowed to begin. I'd always wanted to read some more Collins--so I went out and purchased one of his books, and began to read through it. A poem a day. I suspect we would all do well to read a poem a day. I know, some people just don't like poetry. And others feel they never "get it". But I'm not sure most poets want you to "get it". I suspect most poets want you to simply experience their poems. Live into them, so to speak. After all, good poems invite the reader to engage with the words, the ideas, even the implied silences. Good poems invite you to pause . . . to think . . . to feel . . . to be. Here's the wonderful irony of it all for me at the moment. I am co-teaching a course which includes a look at Emily Dickinson. And I just discovered Collins has a poem called "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes." It is something of an inside joke--while at the same time, offering some wonderful images. And when Collins writes, "What I can tell you is/it was terribly quiet in Amherst/that Sabbath afternoon . . ." you can hear a pin drop! A hair pin that is.

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