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When Did You Last Read a Poem? #poetry

By 01/12/2017January 9th, 2018poetry
Elizabeth Bishop poem

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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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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60 Comments

  • doulosds53 says:

    “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes is my favorite. Have it (mostly) memorized. Added (sacrilege!!!) a verse at the end describing the fate of “Tim, the ostler.”

  • I never really read poetry. Guess it is a quick read like magazine article or short story. Can remember good Seamus Heaney from school. I can recite first verse of Daffidils by William Wordsworth as had it on a book mark and it was my Grandma who who was born near Wordsworth favourite poem.

  • Jaragatha says:

    I always wondered if someone loves poetry soo deeply other than me.I am glad to know your passion with poetry.Please visit my site and inhale some of mine too.

  • Forestwood says:

    A few moments ago. There are some fabulous poems in the blogging community.

  • Thanks for sharing such a beautiful poem. I guess every poet loved reading poetry but to make it a ritual must be so blissful.

  • Yes, it does a soul good to feed it with good poetry. Thank you for sharing the lovely poem by Elizabeth Bishop.

  • I love to read and write poetry! πŸ™‚

  • Keep losing things for becoming detached.

  • xtina says:

    Hey, I just started up my blog and I write poetry! Definitely check it out, I would love to hear your feedback πŸ™‚

  • I don’t personally write poetry but do enjoy the occasional read which has a way with making me feel at ease.

  • Library Staff says:

    I don’t know if I have a favorite poet. I saw someone earlier mention Mary Oliver, who I just discovered recently with her book Upstream and am really enjoying. Over the years though I’ve written poetry every now and then. Just this past Christmas I sent one to a friend of mine that I wrote about her over twenty years ago. This is one of my more recent ones and one of my favorites right now.

    Enjoy!

    E

    Just writing to you
    Just talking with you
    Just thinking about you
    Just remembering you

    Just you
    Make my day better

  • planetwords says:

    Check out my blog– you might find things to your taste there…
    I write poetry, and stuff πŸ˜‰

  • Yes i collect books of daily poetry from different artists. Beautiful and thoughtful words keep me going. Check out my poetry please πŸ™‚

  • aadila says:

    Thanks for sharing, keep bringing more!

  • Because it’s December, I like to read the Oxford Book of Christmas Poems to get in the holiday mood. I also like some poems by Henry Treece.

  • 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 says:

      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.

  • Shilpa Garg says:

    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 πŸ˜€

  • 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!

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    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 says:

      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.

  • macjam47 says:

    I read poetry everyday, and have reblogged some fantastic poems from other bloggers.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I love coming across poems on blogs– thanks for dropping by, Michelle.

  • I don’t read much poetry. I find it like literary fiction–makes me think so darn hard! I’ll be interested in what your community reads.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

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

  • Heidi Love says:

    What a lovely practice Damyanti. One of my favorite poets is Rumi. I especially like Gamble everything for love.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      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.

  • 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. πŸ™‚

  • Poetry is my first love.
    I’m always busy with poems as part of the teaching curriculum…but I don’t read enough poetry for pure pleasure.

  • hilarymb says:

    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 says:

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

  • I enjoy poetry and like the classic style better than the modern approaches.

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    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.

  • 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!

  • 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 πŸ™‚

  • simonfalk28 says:

    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! πŸ™‚

  • JT Twissel says:

    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.

  • I actually read a poem a night as well. πŸ™‚ 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.

  • I have just this minute been reading some poems by Robert Peake (who was new to me). I have also just seen my first film-poem (https://www.robertpeake.com/film-poems). I couldn’t survive without poetry, but I often forget that I need it. I should read one every morning, like you.

  • Liza says:

    Louise Gluck is my favorite poet. Her book of poetry, Wild Iris, is the best, and I’ve read it several times.

  • Dan Antion says:

    I follow several poets and I read some poetry every day. I enjoy it very much.

  • gruundehn says:

    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 says:

      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.

  • This was evocative but I can’t help but disagree. Some losses you don’t need in life.

    • simonfalk28 says:

      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. πŸ™‚

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      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.

      • 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 πŸ™‚

  • manasal397 says:

    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.

  • Not a poetry person and certainly can’t write it, but I have three blogger buddies who post poetry often so I read at least one every day.

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