Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy National Poetry Month!


I feel compelled to begin this post by stating that I am a scientist by day. I believe in rules and research. The idea of writing a novel, with no restrictions on how many words, how many characters, the direction of the story is daunting to me. However, for as long as I can remember, I have loved reading poetry. There are so many reasons why poetry works well for the scientific brain. One of my favorite metaphors of poetry with life is found in A Wrinkle in Time. It perfectly explains how not only poetry relates to life, but also why a scientific brain would fall in love with poetry.

Poetry provides a platform to express emotions and tell stories with a brutal honesty. Poems provide the writer the freedom to say what otherwise might get left unsaid, or lost within the text of a novel. And poetry provides a clear structure and set of rules; which is something my analytical mind needs.

During the school year, I find myself choosing poetry books to read with my oldest daughter frequently. Sometimes, the last thing she needs is another chapter book to read after a long day at school.

We read poetry because:

  1. Poems are filled with raw emotion. And sometimes, children are filled with raw emotions. Any given span of fifteen minutes with a child may vacillate from laughter to tears to love. Sometimes, my daughter needs to jump from topic to topic and acknowledge the range of emotions she has experienced throughout the day.
  2. Poems are short and silly. After hours at school reading, writing, and having to make connections to everything they learn in school, sometimes my daughter just needs to read something silly. Something that doesn't have to be anything more than what it is- a silly poem. Laughter is a great way to settle to sleep at the end of the night.
  3. Poems reinforce those critical concepts necessary to learn to read and write. Poems teach structure, rhythm, and rhyming. Sometimes, when we read poems with rhyming patterns, we will stop before the next rhyming word to see if we can guess what it will be. 
  4. Poems help establish a critical study skill: memorization. As a scientist, I cannot stress that there are certain things you just need to memorize. Poetry is great for practicing that skill.
  5. Finally, poetry requires the writer to be succinct. There is something to be said for brevity. It is a powerful skill to learn that sometimes fewer words can express a much more powerful message. I love how an hakiu is so short, yet dense with content. 
Do you make poetry part of your nightly reading with your children?

Tomorrow, I am excited to share a guest post by one of my best friends in preparation for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Natalie and I became friends almost 15 years ago over playing cards and laughter. It is ironic that even though Natalie and I only went to school for one year together, we have remained friends even since. She is a brilliant writer, and she has a great suggestion on how to celebrate poem in your pocket day. Make sure to check back in tomorrow for that post.



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