I’ve recently had a few conversations about poems with strangers in public places – not something I usually do!
A couple of weeks ago, I had two meetings in the city to discuss corporate storytelling workshops, where I mentioned that I often use poetry as examples for rhythm, alliteration, metaphor and similes. On the way home, I hopped on and off a tram, and as I was waiting at a stop for the next tram, an older lady sitting on the tram bench started chatting to me. At first, I was a little non-committal but then I remembered my manners and turned to her to engage in the conversation properly. We discussed tram timetables, wearing heels and the weather before she asked me what I did. When I replied that I was an editor and writer, she almost jumped out of her seat and hugged me – ‘So am I!’ she said. So Jean (because we were on a first name basis pretty quickly!) told me how she edited and wrote small books on Christian poetry. And they had just organised a second print run for their latest collection.
This week, I was reading a book in a waiting room while filling in time for an appointment when the receptionist and another patient started discussing this patient’s wife’s book. I did eavesdrop for a little while – and then joined in the conversation and found out that the book in question was a book of poetry.
So, for anyone who has ever doubted that poetry was not relevant or commercial to Australians today – they are wrong, because I have two random conversations to prove it!
I have always enjoyed reading poetry and regret that I don’t read enough of it now. My cousin Cath lent me a book of poetry as a kid, and I loved it so much, I bought my own copy which I still have. There are certain poems which have stayed with me, and I thought I’d share them here.
Cinderella by Roald Dahl – I learnt this funny poem off by heart as a kid and my kids think it’s hilarious today.
The highway man by Alfred Noyes – this poem was in my cousin’s book and it is still a favourite. You have probably heard or read this one. I doubly loved it when Anne in the mini-series, Anne of Green Gables, recited it at a Prince Edward Island competition. I recently used it as an example in a grade 4 writing workshop.
Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson – I studied this poem in VCE Literature. My teacher was a fabulous poetry teacher and really helped us to understand the significance of each line. I still have his handout with faded type, and my pencil notes written in the margins. Think I will have this tattooed on my forehead when I’m older.
How do I love thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning – I chose to have a few lines from this poem printed on our wedding booklets – which as of last week, was nineteen years ago!
The journey by Mary Oliver – once I had kids, I really appreciated this poem. It is relevant to everyone, no matter what stage of your journey.
Anyone else have a favourite poem to share?