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.

Click to buy
Poetry
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Book Readers and Reviewers

e-book-1209040__340When digital devices invaded into our lives and living rooms, people thought books would lose their significance. Debates were organized to discuss and create awareness and a new generation of readers cropped up. Smart phones became their books and that was probably the turning point in the habits of readers.

There are three kinds of book readers.

First are those who read just for pleasure or to pass time. They don’t care to write woman-2701154__340reviews, as they take a book like a stranger who passes by. Characters don’t inspire them, as they look at them from imaginative perspective. They don’t dwell on their fictitious troubles, which are dismissed the moment they close the book. They don’t have any TBR list and read whatever they come across. They have a few favorite authors though.

Second are those who read a book just to review it. They are fast readers, may even skip many parts of the book, focusing on the elements that could be useful for their review. Emotions can’t sway them; words don’t move them and nuances of life fail to affect them. They can whiz through pages like a wizard; they can read all genres without a word of dissent. They can read multiple books at a time like a ball juggler. I call them super humans, with magical reading and reviewing skills. I envy them but am glad that I have never tried to be like them.

book-4133988__340 Then there are readers who approach a book like a friend. They fall in the third category. Reading is an experience for them; they connect with characters, feel the emotion of each one, savor the words and highlight what touches them. They are committed readers, in no hurry to finish a book. They choose their books carefully and don’t like to go outside their genre. Their reviews are critically framed, inclusive of good and bad aspects of author’s style and characterization.

Can you connect with one of these readers or are you a combination of all three?

Book reviews speak for themselves whether they have been written by a quick reader or a thoughtful reader; the former would just summarize a book, without going into finer details or saying anything about characters. They don’t care even if their review contains spoilers. I avoid reading any reviews of the book I pick up, as it is a pleasure to tread unknown paths and meet new people from the comfort of my favorite couch.

Do think giving one or two stars to a book is justified?

Recently I have read ‘Where We Belong’ by Emily Giffin and really liked it. But some reviewers have called it “the most appalling book”. This book has such varied reviews…from one star to five stars! I am astounded by the uncivilized language some of the readers have used while reviewing this book, which deals with emotions and relationships brilliantly.

Reviews acquaint us with our imperfections, if they are honest. They also provide a learning opportunity. I like a bad review too; if it is constructive and offers an in-depth analysis into writing. A good review is like a fragrant breeze that wafts around me for many days, boosting my creative juices.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Poetry Makes Us Positive Minded

 

Positive power of poetry

If you are a poetry lover, you must be familiar with the positive power that a poem can provide us. I have quoted many inspiring lines from the famous poets in one of my earlier posts. ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling being my favorite.

Poetry soothes the writer as well as the reader.

Recently I stumbled across this gem, an outstanding poem written in 1932. It demonstrates an incredible power to assuage loss and anguish. Though the poet had written it for her friend who could not visit her mother’s grave due to disturbing times, its popular appeal can be judged from the fact that it was read by the father of a young soldier, who had been killed by a bomb in Northen Ireland.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die. – Mary  Elizabeth Frye

The poem conjures a thousand images of nature to lift the gloomy mood, which fades away in the wake of so much positivity. Read it twice and you would be transported into a different world.

Those who consider reading or writing a poem a difficult task have probably not been introduced to poetry at an impressionable stage of life when emotions and sensitivities are forming.

It is just like book love; some of us are passionate readers while many people don’t care for a book. I know many persons who have not read a single book in their life. When you try to understand the reasons behind this habit, most of the times you would discover that they had no exposure to reading in their childhood.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering… these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.” – Walt Whitman 

From Rumi to Rudyard Kipling to Maya Angelou, poetry has always evoked images of romanticism, realism and Sufism and we get carried away with those images depending on the phase of our life.

Poetry can convey the emotions most succinctly:

“Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs” – William Shakespeare

A renowned Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib says, “Love is a river of fire and you have to drown in it to reach it.” Love could perish you, that’s what Ghalib’s quote is trying to convey through just one couplet and he is talking about romantic love.Poetry of earth

Poetry holds the most profound thoughts:

“The poetry of the earth is never dead,” John Keats has compressed all pervading beauty of nature and its subtle sounds just within one line.

Poetry clasps our sweetest and saddest thoughts:

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. – P.B. Shelley

Poetry carries the wisdom of the world; much can be learnt from it as every aspect of life is depicted through it:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.” – William Blake

Poetry inspires us to look at the beauty around us:IMG_3370

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
– Robert Frost

I have picked up those lines of poetry, which are very easy to understand. In vain do we get scared by this splendid genre of literature, which has been called “the crown of literature.”

Have you felt the positive power of poetry?

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

How Reading Affects Our Personal Development #WorldBookDay

 

Book love
Love for reading

World Book Day – a day that celebrates reading, a day that always inspires me to renew my love for books and share it, a day that reminds me how meaningless life would be without books!

Reading has not only given me pleasure, added brilliance to my gloomy hours but has also enriched my life in various ways.

It has made me wiser, healthier, resilient and emotionally balanced. It helps me converse with the greatest thinkers and dreamers.

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.” – Rene Descartes

Reading inspiring stories reassures me that inspiration could be found anywhere, even in the tears of detachment. Fictional characters too have the potential to enthuse new energy into us.

Redefines anguish:

Reading gives us the capacity to understand, to absorb and to figure out that anguish, loss, grief is a universal phenomenon. Getting stuck in our suffering can block our own growth.

When you equate your painful experiences with others, they seem trivial and you learn to deal with them. The connection becomes the healing factor.

Gives a fresh perspective:

Reading drags you out of your cocoon to watch the world with a fresh perspective, which develops when you are exposed to various views.

Pain, misfortune and emotional hurts are inevitable. It is futile to immerse ourselves in the setbacks of life because sooner or later we have to abandon this baggage to move ahead.

Takes us places:

Reading helps us escape the mundane events of life, it takes us to places, which we could have never visited; it defines our purpose of living; absorb the ideas that appeal to us and then analyze them.

The best moments of our life are created by reading; the best flights of imagination are crafted by the words of a writer who can create a scenario, which transports us into the realms of our choice and stay there frozen in time.

Realities of life come alive:

Stories of guilt, horror and forgiveness acquaint us with those realities of life, which could remain hidden from us. The atrocities of the past, the oppression and discrimination recorded in the annals of history unfold before us when we read.

Even those who choose light, romantic stories get a whiff of the truths of love and life and learn that freedom to live our life the way we want to, was not always possible and is still a far cry for many.Reading quote

Connections and social relationships get better:

The magical power of friendship and reverence, social interaction and kindness is revealed through reading fiction. We can learn some profound lessons of life from fictional characters.

Reading enhances our emotional quotient, our capability of understanding people, complex human behavior and their frailties. I didn’t know how forgiveness could free us from self-imprisonment till I read about it.

Virtues of life can be felt:

Have you noticed how a virtuous character leaves a lasting impression on your mind? Nobody likes a villain who is always conniving to make life difficult but we learn to distinguish between the good and the bad from his devious ways.

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” – Joseph Addison

Develops analytical skills:

Reading poetry honed my aesthetic and analytical skills and has made me more sensitive towards the beauties around me. It also introduced me to the finer emotions of humanity.

Has reading affected your personality? I would love to hear your perspective.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

 

How To Understand Poetry

Understanding Poetry
Poetry of Mother Nature

 

I don’t remember when I started liking poetry. Probably I was born with it or was fascinated by the lyrics of Mother Nature.

When I walk down my memory lane, one image looms large and that is how much effort one of our English professors used to put into explaining the poetry of Tennyson and Wordsworth. While the latter was relatively easier to understand, the former much more complex and obviously we didn’t like the one who was more challenging.

The real challenges came my way when ‘Paradise Lost,’ an epic poem by John Milton was not taught in the class (or if it was, I must be mentally absent) and even when it was discussed, it didn’t evoke any interest!

While prose can be an effortless reading unless it is stream of consciousness writing, poetry can become quite boring if we are not familiar with its techniques and tones.

Despite the tests and trails, I continued to like poetry and slowly discovered that it is a genre par excellence. It can say a lot through literary techniques, which only an admirer of Literature can understand. I still struggle to understand some subtle messages conveyed through simple words.

I have to read my blogger friend Bela’s poems thrice to understand the undertones that appear enigmatic initially. They also inspire ideas to compose another poem.

Ambiguous ideas in a poem provide a food for thought and chisel your creative skills.

Who has the time and the inclination to read and re-read a poem in this fast-paced world? Only poetry lovers do!

Another lovely friend Sue, who is a poet and a prolific blogger of amazing eminence inspires with her poetry.

Most of my blogger friends are elaborative when they share their reflections on my post. Whenever I post a poem, I get a lukewarm response and I often wonder – is it because of poetry?

Quickly my mind hurtles back, my interactions with teenagers get refreshed, all their expressions, yawns and glances stand before me, bringing those lovely memories of hate-love relationship we had with poetry…when we would try to convince each other why poetry is good or bad and how we could understand it better.

I am not an expert but I have figured out a few ways to understand poetry.Understanding Poetry

How to understand a poem:

All readers have their own approach and interpretation but how imagery is used defines a poem. Can you read between those special words to fathom their depth?

It is better to read slowly. Stop and ponder over at the word that seems simple but abstruse.

“If you’re curious, there is always something new to be discovered in the backdrop of your daily life,” says Roy T. Bennett. Be curious. Inquisitiveness and interest are two important elements that lead to our understanding of a poem.

Poetry can’t be scanned and understood like prose as the former demands concentration, attention and gentle reading.

If you read a poem in a hurry, you would miss the real meaning. Many times words are used as metaphors.

You have to be familiar with most common literary techniques like simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, alliteration and assonance.

Imaginative flights of poets can’t be predicted, we have to fly with them to figure out their proficiencies.

Critical analysis of a poem reveals the nuances of its theme, undertones and other signals, which remain hidden to a scanner.

Some poems are ambiguous. Probably they relate to the poet’s past or buried memory, which he wouldn’t like to reveal yet, give a vent to his emotions through writing.

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” – Leonard Cohen

Do you like poetry? Do you read a poem slowly?

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.