When Did You Last Read a Poem? #poetry

Elizabeth bishop poemWhen life gets me down, I take refuge in poetry.

I read a poem every day, first thing in the morning for a long time now, and like one of those fragrance diffusers, this practice perfumes my days. Today’s poem was One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. I love her work, but this one in particular is an old favorite because of how it marries a universal experience of loss to defiance and positive affirmation.

There might be deadlines, dental appointments, news of deaths and devastation, but this practice of reading poetry keeps a calm center to each day, and guides me back home within myself when I go to bed.

Reading a poem a day is magical sustenance for me, an absolute essential for the writing life, filled as it is with its ups and downs, ecstasies and disappointments.
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Do you read or write poetry? What poem has resonated with you? In the comments, could you list a poem or two that you think I should read?


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45 comments

Add Yours
  1. cindamackinnon

    I rarely pick up a poetry book but bloggers like you share the gift of a new poem. That may have been how I discovered Mary Oliver….”what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Oh, Mary Oliver. I have her collection, and read from it every time I pass by my aquarium, near which it sits. On a given day, I can find my thoughts echoed in her words on any random page.

  2. Shilpa Garg

    Reading poetry everyday is such a lovely habit and it’s wonderful that it comforts and rejuvenates you too!
    As for me, poetry and I are like 2 banks of a river, never the twain shall meet 😀

  3. Lisa Southard

    My prose is close to poetry, and I grew up an avid reader of everything including poems that I didn’t understand – I just felt the words were beautiful, like being in the sea, just a little part of something bigger and astounding. I have eclectic taste, mostly drawn to things that illuminate the everyday wonders. I love to listen to it as much as read it, I should get more audio books!

  4. Rajlakshmi

    Ohh the poem is so Beautiful… So soul stirring!! I love reading poems and there’s one which I have read a number of times. Its As I walked out one evening by W H Auden.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      I remember Auden’s poem: Time watches from the shadow/ And coughs when you would kiss.

      So much of poetry is about love and loss.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Oh, I’m quite the opposite, I guess. Poetry makes me feel or maybe it just takes on my feelings, I’m not sure.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Yep, Rumi was a refuge on a few dark days.

      Gamble everything for love.

      If you are a true human being.

      If not, leave this gathering.

  5. D. Wallace Peach

    I love reading poetry and especially those wonderful ones that make me gasp or laugh or cry. There are amazing poets on WP, so I get to read poetry every day. 🙂

  6. hilarymb

    Hi Damyanti – I don’t read poems very often … but some times something comes to light … as in “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?!” I wanted to use a paraphrase of the title for my blog – but realised I was on the wrong track … odd things come back to my mind. I’d love to read more … and at some stage take a course on poetry – cheers Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Taking a course in poetry sounds intriguing– maybe I should put that on my list of things to do! Thanks for dropping by, Hilary.

  7. Shilpa Gupte

    Damyanti, I have never been a poetry person. To be honest, at times, I find it difficult to fathom the idea behind the words and at times I find it too deep to sink in! But, this poetry you shared, this one felt so real, like it was meant to be read by me! I have always feared ‘losing’ – be it people, things, or even myself. But, as the poet says here, it is really not a disaster losing something or someone. True. Life goes on, whatever you may lose.
    Thank you for sharing this poem! I will definitely try and read poetry, if not attempt writing it.

  8. Anagha Yatin (@anagha_yatin)

    When I read this poem, “One Art”, I felt as if, it had been written for me exclusively! Each stanza made me ponder and did not let me go ahead till I soaked myself with the thoughts that it generated.
    Though I am not a “Poem” fan, I occasionally read poems, just like how I did it today! I must agree that the poems fathom more depths and scale higher altitudes than a plain prose, for sure!

  9. Penny's human dad, Gary

    Hi Damyanti,

    This might surprise you, after all, I did sort of attempt some poetry on your site when I guest posted, but personally, most poetry either confuses me or makes me want to throw up.

    Although, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar is a most excellent pawet and I rather appreciate her pawetry.

    Gary 🙂

  10. simonfalk28

    Great poem by Elizabeth Bishop. I had not seen that one. Thanks for posting it. I love that you read a poem each day, although am not surprised that you do. When did I last read a poem, other than just now? Why yesterday, of course! 🙂

  11. JT Twissel

    That’s a great poem (One Art) – I’m not good about maintaining any sort of ritual but I have friends who are poetry lovers and they generally send along a poem or two a day which I enjoy. I write poems only when what I have to say doesn’t fit into a narrative – I guess because I’m feeling more than thinking.

  12. saraletourneau

    I actually read a poem a night as well. 🙂 It’s a habit I started late last year, when I realized I had accumulated a large number of poetry books but hadn’t read most of them. Right now I’m about 3/4s of the way through Sandra Beasley’s I Was The Jukebox.

    The funny thing is, I started writing poetry again after taking a 4 year break from it while working on my previous manuscript. I’m sure the poem-a-night habit was one influencer, but the faucet had definitely turned “on” again after I attended the Iceland Writing Retreat in April. It’s been a challenge to balance poetry with novel-writing since then, but I think I’ve finally found a “system” that works for me.

  13. gruundehn

    I am not a big fan of poetry in general, but this post was timed perfectly. I was just reading some of Burns’ poetry just the day before yesterday. I have an old, 2nd edition, copy of his complete works.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Poetry collections can be such a delight. I have a few, Dickinson, Neruda, Bishop, Yeats, Mary Oliver, Gibran, Whitman, Wordsworth, and I dip into them in between the poems I come across on the net every day.

      Poetry can stay with you all day, and I love mouthing the words whenever I’m on a break over a cuppa.

    • simonfalk28

      Pradita, I would agree that some of our losses are certainly most unwelcome, e.g., the sudden tragic loss in death of a loved one. I find we begin to live with them in a way that becomes manageable to a level. Even though some of the scar remains. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas

      We don’t apparently need any losses in life at all–but we get them anyway. Sometimes we’re bad judges of what we need, and at others we have to surrender–the loss that cripples us, makes it almost impossible to take another step or breath is also one that we have no control over.

      The poem sort of tries to take control, saying, yes, that’s a loss, now, more, bring it on.

      • Pradita Kapahi

        That’s a nice way of putting it. I recognised that in the poem, that it’s trying to give us hope, make us better at overcoming our grief. Thanks for sharing with us Damyanti 🙂

  14. manasal397

    Wow amazing thought; reading poetry to start your day. I do write poetries but now long gone. Words are dancing in my head but not able to put them in a picture. Waiting for an inspiration to start my journey of writing again and walk the path until the end.
    Today your words really inspired me. Thank you.