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My Poetry App

Shall we write a poem about this yellow peony? Or is the photo I snapped in the park on a spring day poem enough?
A writer/artist cousin wrote to ask: Who are your favorite poets? Oh, I had so much fun answering that question. Poetry is everywhere, as present as the clouds and the sky, or a sentence that someone throws out standing on the sidewalk chatting as the clouds roll by, or a tear for a sick friend, or the whiff of spring blossom, or the soft fur of a new puppy, or a lover’s touch, or a parent who has just died, or mortality and love in general, and so much more every day and night and through the night into the morning and the next day and the day after that.

I have created my own anthology of poetry and I try to memorize a poem now and again which I find difficult, but I do it anyway even if it takes me a long time, a line or two a day. Beyond that, I have a few poetry collections on my shelf, and I listen to Garrison Keillor recite and declaim poetry on “Writer’s Almanac,” and suddenly the poems in The New Yorker—which I read digitally—have little speaker clicks next to them and I can hear the poet (if s/he is alive) read his or her own poems. Not that poets necessarily read their own poems well. Sometimes, in fact, they are so portentous in their reading that I cannot understand what they are saying at all, I am just watching them or hearing them be portentous. If that happens, it’s on to the next one quickly as there are so many poems to enjoy. We don’t have to linger if a poem is obscure or we don’t like it. No one is grading us. We are not parsing anything as we were forced to parse in high school. And if we are at a poetry reading and the reading is boring as well as portentous (portentous is boring), we can space out or write our own poetry in a notebook which, if we are writers, we always carry with us.

I have a poetry app on my smart phone, smart enough to know that poetry is essential to daily life. I can look up any poet and find some examples of his or her work, or I can browse by subject—youth, aging, love, nature, work and play—depending on my mood. Or the poems “spin” and I can read whatever comes up like a wheel of fortune at an amusement park. The Poetry Foundation has created this app—it’s free—and I thank them.
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