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  • Carroll Devine

Earth Day and Poetry Month

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…” (Sergeant Joyce Kilmer), and yet…

It seems fitting that Earth Day and Poetry Month should fall together, at least for one day. The preservation of both gives us hope of sustaining a life worth living.

It’s easy enough to understand how we must protect and nourish the Earth that nourishes us and our bodies, and all that lives and breathes, but it may not be as obvious to some the role of poetry in the spiritual and emotional health of us and our planet.

Poetry can be found in many strange, or common places, often when you least expect it. This inclines me to believe that in fact, the observer or consumer’s appreciation contributes as much to the poetry of life as does its creator. Poetry is an interactive, mutually beneficial thing.

It often uplifts and gives rise to inspiration, while stimulating, sharpening, and refining the senses. Poetry allows for a new perspective. It can comfort the afflicted, offer escape to the discouraged, and pleasantry, even laughter, to the pained. Poetry is the panacea we all need.

Happily, there’s an abundance of poetry for those who would hear and see it, and a wealth of poets who inspire.

Among them, I would mention Brod Bagert, a Johnny Appleseed of poetry who is the author of books of poetry for all ages. When he writes for children, he writes in their voices, demystifying poetry in his quest to have others appreciate it and create their own. In traveling the country, visiting schools, he plants the seeds of delight everywhere as he performs and engages audiences. Having been among his audiences, I know, because I’ve laughed and cried with him.

A poem is still a mysterious, magical thing and something that really can’t be defined, though some have tried. On a recent visit to New York City, riding on a shuttle train to Grand Central Station, I noticed on the front wall of the car, Poetry in Motion, the effort of one person to offer some definition.

I read quickly as the train sped, What Should Poem do? It shd fill you up with something or make you swoon...stop you in your tracks... change your mind or make it up. It shd surprise you like cold water or a kiss.

(My apologies to the poet for any mistakes, and for not catching the author’s name, but the ride was too short.)

How can you celebrate Poetry Month? Read a poem a day. Memorize a poem. Write your own. Buy a book of poetry from a local bookstore. Life is too short to not have poetry in it.

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