I interviewed Kim Rosen, a spoken word artist and author of Saved by a Poem on my Hay House Radio show last week. The show airs at 11:00 am EST Wednesday, December 9, 2009. (There’s an iPhone App for Hay House Radio or you can listen over the Internet.) Anyway—I was so moved by what she had to say about poetry and the magic of reciting a poem that you love, out loud, to share with others, that I decide to include, as part of my holiday celebration with my family, a time when each of us recites a favorite poem out loud for each other. It could be Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I want to include as many people as I can.
I have only recently discovered poetry. Like so many before me, I was completely turned off from it by my formal education. I thought poetry was boring, useless, and completely unintelligible. I didn’t know what it meant. College English killed it for me. The onerous and, for me, seemingly impossible task of critiquing Keat’s Ode on a Grecian Urn for my English professor drove me to contemplate, albeit briefly, throwing myself in front of a car one particularly dreary afternoon in Cleveland in the winter of my sophomore year in college.
(Later that day, I called my parents and told them how miserable I was. My father said, “Come home. No one is forcing you to stay at college.” Realizing that the choice was mine, I chose to stay. My classical migraine headaches stopped after this, but that’s another story.)
This past year, many decades later, Kim Rosen asked me to choose a favorite poem to record on the CD that accompanies her book, Saved by a Poem. I was intrigued by the idea that reading a poem aloud in my own voice could be a powerful healing transmission for others, that reciting a beloved poem could heal body and mind. Kim says poems are words, musicked. When I read her book, I learned that because I love words and music, I am, by nature, a poet! So are you. And poetry is everywhere. All song lyrics are poetry. So are prayers.
Kim writes, “Poetry was created to be experienced in the body and spoken aloud. Made of breath, sound, rhythm, meaning, and silence, a poem is a physical event. It needs a human body to give it life. To celebrate a poem’s natural expression means giving it a life inside your own body—in your voice, your breathing, and your pulse, not to mention your feelings and thoughts. As you take it in, the poem can become an inner teacher, changing you from the inside out. And you can change the poem as well, giving it a voice in a way no one else ever could.”
And so, as you think of the perfect present to give for Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) consider giving a poem to someone you love.