Ode to 2019

Write your six-word memoir!

2020 is only days away, and I have a tiny but mighty challenge for you, my fellow poets: can you sum it up in six words? If you're not familiar with six-word memoirs, check them out here and see what you think before accepting this challenge! Can you sum up 2019 in just six words? I'm still pondering mine.

Next, if you really want a challenge, think of yourself a year from now at the end of 2020 and write one up based on the year you HOPE you have. It's a combo poem and letter to your future self all at once! Mail it to yourself if you like, or just email it to yourself and "snooze" it until December 2020, which is what I'll be doing!

Have you got your memoir yet? Share it in the chat once you do and have a wonderful New Year!

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Twas The Night Before Christmas

Share your favorite parodies!

Who doesn't love an old-fashioned reading of "T'was the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve? My family has a little picture book that we still read every year and as much as we love that nostalgia, I have to say that we also love the many parodies of the poem that people have come up with over the years. 

My husband is a Jeff Dunham fan and enjoys Walter's retelling of the poem, but I'm not a fan of Dunham. I do love the idea of putting in your own words to make it more unique to your family, especially if it's funny! Someone compiled over 800 versions of the poem and while I don't think I could ever read them all, I love the enthusiasm.

Do you know an especially funny parody of the poem? Share it in the chat!

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Word of the Year: They

Time to update your poetry!

Have you heard that the word of the year is "they," and that the dictionary is now recognizing it as a singular pronoun? This is such exciting news, especially to someone very close to me. If you haven't already, be sure to use your pronouns on your signature and nametags so it becomes normalized. When only trans and non-binary people do it, it makes them stick out and singles them out, so it's one small thing we can all do to make it an everyday thing.

Now that "they" is a singular pronoun like "he" or "she," we can start using it in poems if you're not already doing so! Think of what an inclusive world this will open when we start to do this. It gives me goosebumps. I'd love to hear it in songs, too. 

How about you? Are you already using "they" in your writing? Share a few examples with us in the chat!

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Poems for Lizzo

Share yours in the chat

Plenty of Lizzo's fans are loving her little twerk (I say little because it was literally seconds long) at the Lakers game this week and Amanda Stein showed her appreciation in a poem on Twitter that has to be shared. In her poem, Stein points out that the nudity that we're accustomed to seeing on a daily basis is generated for the male gaze and not for women to enjoy nor women representing themselves.

She moves on to say that Lizzo's actions were for HERSELF, which is why people have such a problem with her, not because it's "immoral." A family is even trying to sue her because their five-year-old witnessed her dance. I'm guessing that no one in this family has a butt.

If you appreciate Lizzo and want to share a poem about her, post it in the chat! Be sure to check out Amanda Stein's at the link above. It's beautiful. 

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Poetry for Young People: Edgar Allan

A wonderful introduction

My teen learned about Poe by first reading The Tell-Tale Heart during Halloween season, just like I did. Every year since we've read a story or two, but we hadn't really looked at the poems as much (save for "The Raven" and "The Black Cat"), so I thought we'd check out a similar book to the Robert Frost one we'd looked at last week.

This book, Poetry for Young People: Edgar Allan Poe, is as delightfully macabre as you'd expect. There's a big raven on the cover and it's filled with gorgeous illustrations. I'd never even heard of many of these poems (although some of them were excerpts from his short stories) and I really enjoyed looking at them alongside my teenager.

Have you read any Poe collections lately? If so, which ones are your favorites?

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Poetry For Young People: Robert Frost

A lovely introduction

In my house, we've been reading Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost, and we've really enjoyed it. It's the perfect book for fall and going into winter if you want to study poetry, and the illustrations are lovely. Each poem has its own page or two-page spread, which I really appreciate since a lot of poetry books cram them together. That's fine for older readers but we all appreciate a bit of space and beauty, and this makes it more accessible for kids.

The one thing that I think any book of poetry for young people should include is a literary analysis of at least a few of the poems to help kids get a sense of what they mean and how to analyze them. I do appreciate that they're more for appreciation of the poetry than understanding, but understanding is also important, and the analysis could be included in the back for older readers.

Have you read this collection? If not, what is your favorite Robert Frost Collection?

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Authors on Poetry

Check out these suggestions

The Atlantic has been showcasing different authors and their favorite passages found in literature, highlighting many different points of view and moving, and even funny, pieces we can all enjoy. Jami Attenberg not only shared a poem with the series, but a poem about how important isolation can be when it comes to writing.

Cuban poet Dulce María Loynaz is known for many one-lined poems and Attenberg cites her as one of her inspirations. I love how the focus on being your own best companion points out how everyone really needs to be their own source of inspiration, even your own best friend--and the remarks about distinguishing between isolation and loneliness are so important, especially in a time when many seem to have forgotten how to be content in isolation. Between the business of life and social media, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm one such person who used to love my own company best. It's addictive, to be sure. Check out these brief poems translated by Attenberg and see if they resonate with you.

Do you have any poems that have inspired you lately? Share them in the chat.

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Reading At Bedtime: A Healthy Habit

Do you read poetry at bedtime?

By now you already know that it's not great to read your phone or other device at bedtime. It's much healthier to shut down your devices at least half an hour or longer before you go to bed to get your brain ready for sleep and promote a good night's rest. But if you do choose to read before bed without a screen, such as a book of poetry, did you know that you'll likely have a better night's sleep?

According to those surveyed, not only do people who read at bedtime have a better night's sleep, but they also have a more positive outlook on life. Bedtime readers also tend to make more money, interestingly enough, which is a great reason to read a few pages before you catch your winks. And it's not even as if you have to read a whole book: the results were across the board for those who read just a couple of pages, too.

Do you read at bedtime? If so, what is your nightly reading routine like? Share it in the chat.

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Pondering Poe

Are you a fan?

Last week we talked a bit about Sylvia Plath, so I thought I'd bring up Poe. It feels like a good time of year to talk Poe, right? Dark and brooding, his stuff is a lot like November, and I'm such a sucker for it that I have a raven tattoo on my wrist. That said, he married his teen cousin, which is really hard to get past today. When I was young, I chalked it up as a quirk, because you hear about a lot of guys who did something like that; today I know better, and it's really hard to separate the person from the work sometimes.

What do you think of Poe's work? Against more modern poetry, it often feels convoluted, although I have to say as a teenager I loved it so much. I wonder if it's my modern attention span to blame. Reading some of it aloud with my teen was more difficult than I thought it would be--and my teen reads Shakespeare. So maybe it was just me fangirling all those years ago.

What about you? Are you a fan, and if so, how do you feel about separating the work from the artist? Share your thoughts in the chat.


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All About Plath

Are you a fan?

When I saw this piece about the seven most essential poems by Sylvia Plath, I thought I'd share it with poetry readers and get your thoughts. I used to love reading Plath as a teen, as many teens do, and confess that I really haven't put much thought into it as an adult. When I revisit works like The Bell Jar I'm more annoyed than touched, even though the message is still clear; I suppose as a mom who simultaneously empathizes with Plath yet disdains many of her complaints it makes me feel ambivalent. The same goes, as it turns out, for some of her poetry, though other poems still resonate with me all these years later.

I'm all about symbolism, for example, but comparing men to the Halocaust doesn't seem fair--not to men, but to actual Halocaust victims and survivors. It's true that the patriarchy causes death and destruction, but I've been on the hating end of so much internalized misogyny lately that I have to question even that, even though I get that it, too, is a result of the patriarchy. But hey, anything that makes us think, right?

What do you think of Plath's poetry and her messages? I'd say I'm still a fan but not as deeply as I once was. Share your thoughts in the chat.

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