Today is National Great Poetry Reading Day! No, I’m serious! It’s a thing.
Go get you some Angelou, Dickinson or Whitman,
some Baraka, some Stein, some Oliver, and read it out loud.
Read to yourself, to your lover, to your students,
to your sister, to your cat. Read to the wind,
to the apple tree, to the dishwasher, to the dust bunnies.
Dive into those great poems and make yourself a cento, which means “patchwork garment” in Latin, which makes this poem form seem extra special. Really, it’s a glorified found poem. You pull lines from a bunch of different poems and you make a poem from them, sticking them together in ways that seem to connect and complete each other’s thoughts and ideas. Homer did it. So did Virgil. So you can, too. Put an asterisk at the bottom of your page and list the poets you borrowed from.
1. May apples
May we walk in Beauty!
“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman
“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” ―Wendell Berry
“A crone is a woman who has found her voice. She knows that silence is consent. This is a quality that makes older women feared. It is not the innocent voice of a child who says, “the emperor has no clothes,” but the fierce truthfulness of the crone that is the voice of reality. Both the innocent child and the crone are seeing through the illusions, denials, or “spin” to the truth. But the crone knows about the deception and its consequences, and it angers her. Her fierceness springs from the heart, gives her courage, makes her a force to be reckoned with.” —Jean Shinoda Bolen
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.” —Thomas Carlyle
“At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include than included for who I exclude.” —Eston Williams
“Free me. . .from words, that I may discover the signified, the word unspoken in the darkness.” —Byzantine Prayer
“Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.”
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.”
“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” —Harper Lee