How to Nurture Love for Poetry #NationalPoetryMonth

Symbolism and words

Poetry is said to be good for the soul, as it soothes our emotions, helps us dig deeper into  thoughts and dreams and makes us discern the aesthetic pleasures around us. If you avoid poetry and prefer thrillers, probably you have never been exposed to the love of reading a good poem.

Nurturing the love for poetry starts in childhood. If you are a parent, read a poem everyday with your child. Ask the child what s/he likes about that poem. If the child likes it, don’t hestitate to read it everyday but add another one. Begin with simple and short poems.

Encourage your child to collect little poems and make a scrapbook. You can browse poems for kids online. Think about your favorite poets and poems you liked as a child or as a youngster. Share those thoughts with your children or siblings. Discuss what makes you like poetry.

Encourage your child to write a short poem. Bette A. Stevens offers excellent guidelines for writing haiku (an unrhymed poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.)

Why is poetry disliked? Whenever this question haunts me, I try to look back to search some answers. The only poetry we were exposed to in schools, was the rhymes and that too in Kindergarten.

While reading story books is stressed upon but good poetry books are not easily available. Either they haven’t been written or their level is too high to be understood by children.

Some poems that we meet in textbooks fail to inculcate the love for reading of more poetry though ‘Mr. Nobody’ stayed in my thoughts and I love it even today.

Here is the fun poem: I wish more such poems could be written!

Mr. Nobody

I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.

’Tis he who always tears out books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.

He puts damp wood upon the fire
That kettles cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
And all the carpets soil.
The papers always are mislaid;
Who had them last, but he?
There’s no one tosses them about
But Mr. Nobody.

The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill; the boots
That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
To Mr. Nobody.
– Walter de la Mare

Whenever a door squeaks, I think of Mr. Nobody!

Poems for children and middle schoolers have to be short and simple. The following poem by Robert Frost could speak to them if imagery is explained by the teacher:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
– Robert Frost

Love for poetry is also connected with how well the poems are taught by our English teachers. Some just read them and inspire children to analyze. While it may be good for developing critical thinking, discussions have to follow to share the opinion of others.

Creative writing workshops in schools that focus on poetry writing develop sensibilities at an early age. Do you have any memories of writing poetry in your school?

In honor of National Poetry Month, two of my poetry books are being offered for just 0.99 cents. If you love poetry, grab your copy now. Thank you. Please share this post at your favorite social networks.

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Author Spotlight: Balroop Singh (Moments We Love)

I share only few posts at Facebook and I happened to share this one. I am amazed at the response from my old friends and students who still remember me fondly. Many thanks to James, an accomplished author and a wonderful blogger friend for giving me this opportunity to show my achievements. Please hop on to James’ blog to read the full interview, where I also share excerpts from my latest book – ‘Moments We Love.’

Words Bind us in a Strange Bond…

I have never come across a more comprehensive analysis of my poetry. This review of my latest poetry book ‘Timeless Echoes’ at insaneowl.com by Fiza Pathan has enlightened me about my own poems! I am amazed at her interpretations and had to go back to those poems to understand them anew after reading her thoughts about them. I have realized how vague thoughts speak differently to readers, refreshing their own memories!

‘My First Love’ is one such abstract poem, where my love for books is expressed through metaphors but has been construed differently. I am delighted to note that my poetry has been called “therapeutic,” “a soothing balm to the spirit of a poetry lover.”

Though Fiza has copyrighted her review, I take this liberty to quote her:

“These poems are tender, soothing and beautiful, and a must read for all of us poetry lovers stuck on our old memories and times not forgotten. I really think Balroop should go in for poetry therapy because her poems really are like the soothing touch of a grandmother’s gentle hand on a fevered brow.”

Thank you so much Fiza, for your critique. We may be sitting at the extreme corners of the globe but words bind us in a strange bond.

Please click here to read the full review of Timeless Echoes by Fiza Pathan.

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Image: © Fiza Pathan

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The NEA reports an increased interest in poetry.

Balroop Singh.

Poetry Books with a Difference

I would like to share these poetry books with you, which touched me deeply:

41NExciOU6L._SR126,200_Stranger Paths: The Magic in the Madness Poetry Collection by R.J. Zarkani speaks eloquently about war-torn Iraq and the eternal emotional bruises that a little girl carried within her, wondering why her father told her to get inside when she wanted to see the “fireworks making a day out of night,” – a child’s perspective about war.

All the pearls in this book belong to the same string that broke and scattered. Zarkani’s yearning to meet the child who “swallowed the smoke” and got lost in the explosions didn’t wane years after she migrated to an alien land, in search of peace and freedom. Roots pull her; stars and the clouds appear familiar but there is a strange disconnect that seems inexplicable, as she was told “you don’t look like a terrorist!”

Superb imagery that R.J. uses blends in her reflections about “creatures crawled out of her book,” a book that calls her, visions that haunt her, images of the past linger, fairies that lived on her kitchen sink still sing; memories stand before her, trying to sweep her away into the world she still loves… ‘shoes filled with mud’ seem dearer… ‘rain in the desert’ – a childhood memory returns as Raghad writes the poignant story of the moments she treasures.

41TYVhHDryL._SR133,200_Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey by Forrest Stepnowski is a brilliant anthology of blank verse and a short story that dwells on the hope of being accepted the way one is… “To be my own star.” It gives voice to all those persons of LGBTQ community, who slip into the abyss of self-loathing because of orthodox, judgmental society that spews hatred against them, declaring them “gay,” “immoral” and “abnormal.”

Each poem in this collection makes a poignant appeal to the society to understand the pain and ridicule that they have to undergo because of the apathetic attitude of the people around them, who push them into the closet, compelling them to face “The silent horror of being” and are forced to snub “the darkest secrets” but who crave for love to lead a normal life.

This is a distressing journey of emotional upheavals, a clarion call to find their own voice and light by breaking free from the shackles that threaten to suffocate them, by accepting that strength lies within. This book must be read by everybody as it contains profound words for those who look down upon other human beings.

51h1UkHNvmL._SR125,200_‘Open a New Door’ by Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle is a collection of poems, inspired from life in Africa and people who make it good, bad or ugly. All aspects are portrayed in a plausible manner.

Both Kim and Robbie have a similar style of writing blank verse, some of the themes too are identical. Realism is the hallmark of their poetry, as they talk about life and people in clear words; imagination takes a back seat. Deeply moved by poverty around her, Robbie has highlighted it in many poems. If ‘The Boys under the Bridge’ brings out the plight of the homeless youth, The Silver Lining underlines the uplifting spirits of a youngster carrying a load of recyclables with abandon, The Beggar’s Child mocks at the apathy of the passers-by but ‘The Golden Light’ focuses on helping the underprivileged children of a school in a squatter camp with books – a wonder gift for them.

Kim seems to be an ardent animal lover because many of her poems celebrate wild life and give a vivid description of how a cheetah hunts its prey, how mother cheetah nurtures her cubs, how a lion lies on golden grass, even her Utopia mentions “stamping buffalo.” Iconic South African birds too catch her attention to inspire a poem. The opening lines of ‘Lessons Learned in a rural village’ seem to be inspired from William Blake’s poem ‘The Little Black Boy.’

Some of the poems are too personal and comment on how life unfolds, offering unforgettable memories, moments of exhilaration and dismay, travails of a working mother and insecurities of an empty nest but they all make life worth living. Heaviness of this book would linger around you even when you finish and put it away.

Thank you for reading this post. Do you have a book in mind that has touched you deeply? Please share your reflections.

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– Balroop Singh