Seeing Like A Poet

The 1st October 2020 is National Poetry Day. This year the theme is ‘Vision’ and the motto for the event is, ‘see like a poet’. 

The event was organised before Covid-19 drastically changed our year. Many of us may have found the profound and unexpected changes challenging, scary, inspiring, futuristic, story like, emotional or maybe even, to some degree, enjoyable. 

Throughout the many months of isolation, social distancing and lockdown we may have been encouraged to take time to evaluate our lives, to reflect on the positives, and set goals to help us improve things that could be better.  

If you were to take a few moments and reflect on your experience, you may find yourself seeing and describing the world in a form of poetry. After all, it is an abstract way to allow others into the mind of the speaker and has endless possibilities. 

You may choose to speak for yourself, on behalf of those around you, or of a person or object you imagine would have a lot to say. 

You may use a range of figurative language including similes and metaphors to try and translate your experience for others. Alternatively, you may focus on the literal experience, describing the normal and every day to highlight the peculiarities within them. 

In a reflective way, you may choose to share the visions from before or within lockdown, or you may envision the future you were or are still waiting to arrive. It can focus on a minuscule moment or establish eons in a single breath. 

We would love to share your poetic works of art with our larger school community. Any students wishing to share their poetry can send them to m.flora@arkboulton.org for us to showcase. Below we have included some examples of poetry from other authors to inspire you as you decide how to articulate your voice and share your vision through the eyes of a poet. 

 

Examples of inspiring poetry

Untitled by Kitty O'Meara (2020) 

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. 
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. 
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. 

 

Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson (1861) 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - 
That perches in the soul - 
And sings the tune without the words - 
And never stops - at all - 

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - 
And sore must be the storm - 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm - 

I've heard it in the chillest land - 
And on the strangest Sea - 
Yet - never - in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb - of me. 

 

Insha’Allah by Danusha Laméris (2014) 

I don’t know when it slipped into my speech 
that soft word meaning, “if God wills it.” 
Insha’Allah I will see you next summer. 
The baby will come in spring, insha’Allah. 
Insha’Allah this year we will have enough rain. 

So many plans I’ve laid have unravelled 
easily as braids beneath my mother’s quick fingers. 

Every language must have a word for this. A word 
our grandmothers uttered under their breath 
as they pinned the whites, soaked in lemon, 
hung them to dry in the sun, or peeled potatoes, 
dropping the discarded skins into a bowl. 

Our sons will return next month, insha’Allah. 
Insha’Allah this war will end, soon. Insha’Allah 
the rice will be enough to last through winter. 

How lightly we learn to hold hope, 
as if it were an animal that could turn around 
and bite your hand. And still we carry it 
the way a mother would, carefully, 
from one day to the next. 

 

Good Bones by Maggie Smith (2017) 

Life is short, though I keep this from my children. 
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine 
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways, 
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways 
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least 
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative 
estimate, though I keep this from my children. 
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird. 
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, 
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world 
is at least half terrible, and for every kind 
stranger, there is one who would break you, 
though I keep this from my children. I am trying 
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, 
walking you through a real s***hole, chirps on 
about good bones: This place could be beautiful, 
right? You could make this place beautiful. 

 

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou (1983) 

In a profound show of resilience  
The free bird leaps 
on the back of the wind 
and floats downstream 
till the current ends 
and dips his wings 
in the orange sun rays 
and dares to claim the sky. 

But a bird that stalks 
down his narrow cage 
can seldom see through 
his bars of rage 
his wings are clipped and 
his feet are tied 
so he opens his throat to sing. 

The caged bird sings 
with fearful trill 
of the things unknown 
but longed for still 
and his tune is heard 
on the distant hill 
for the caged bird 
sings of freedom 

The free bird thinks of another breeze 
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees 
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn 
and he names the sky his own. 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams 
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream 
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied 
so he opens his throat to sing 

The caged bird sings 
with a fearful trill 
of things unknown 
but longed for still 
and his tune is heard 
on the distant hill 
for the caged bird 
sings of freedom. 

 

The Orange by Wendy Cope (1992) 

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange 
The size of it made us all laugh. 
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave— 
They got quarters and I had a half. 

And that orange it made me so happy, 
As ordinary things often do 
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park 
This is peace and contentment. It’s new. 

The rest of the day was quite easy. 
I did all my jobs on my list 
And enjoyed them and had some time over. 
I love you. I’m glad I exist.