Many people believe that modern attention spans are dwindling, and social media is partly to blame. There's so much information at any given moment that we're constantly scrolling, losing interest and skimming information more than ever. Twitter has even reduced many of us to 140-character thoughts (although that's shifted in recent years).
Sometimes it feels like there's all the time in the world during the summer months, but they sure pass quickly. Enjoying poetry under a shady tree, with someone you care about or even by yourself, is a lovely way to pass a summer day. Grab a picnic blanket and some snacks, your favorite tomes and definitely hide any electronics. Some music might be great to accompany your poetry, but try using nature as your background soundtrack for just this once.
Many people acknowledge how useless testing can be, especially if it's standardized testing. As a teacher, I like to say that it shows us what students don't know, not what they do, and as a student, I always chose essays over multiple choice tests for this very reason.
Any lover of poetry already knows how valuable the library card is. You can check out poems to your heart's delight, from Whitman collections to the many YA books told in verse available. In fact, my teen and I are reading Bayou Magic together right now, which is prose but so poetic you'd think it's poetry, and it's courtesy of the library.
Reading the letters and poems that historical couples have written to one another can be quite revealing. I remember reading some of the smutty letters that the "literary geniuses" that our English teachers assigned us to read later in college and realizing just how human they really were. Did anyone else have that startling realization after idolizing teachers, writers and other "professionals" their whole lives?
In 2019, you might think that no one would be jailed for speaking the words of their heart anymore, but that's the reality that many artists continue to face even to this day. In Somaliland, a poet with dual British citizenship has been detained simply for poems that he's written that are critical about human rights concerns in Somaliland. Police officers accosted him while he was eating lunch after he'd recited a poem and now he's being held.
Never underestimate the kindness of an artist. Some poets like to do random acts of kindness featuring their art, like this 32-year-old poet who sends random poems to people in the mail. Who doesn't love to get snail mail?
We just checked out a book of silly poems as a family and many are just delightful. The collection, written by Jack Prelutsky with illustrations by Brandon Dorman, is called Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face and other poems. It's filled with fanciful creatures, from frogs who take on human characteristics to the dragons and ogres you'd expect from a Prelutsky book, and features over 100 verses about everything from elephants to tigers, witches to dinosaurs and everything in between.
Youth who are into slam poetry can get rewarded for their talents and interests. At Power Poetry, youth can submit their poems and earn scholarship money or just share their words with the world. Some of their open slams feature topical events that impact youth in the world today, from racism to human trafficking, while others (that mention a scholarship in their titles) provide opportunity to further youth knowledge and education.
When I was 12 years old, my paternal grandmother died of cancer. It was the first death in my life that, while not unexpected, really shook me to my core, instilling a heavy sense of loss and grief. I remember writing so many poems, one of which was read at her funeral, and feeling more connected to her, as if my words could somehow reach her that way since I could no longer speak to her.