A good poem is like pop rocks for the brain. Reading the lines, an experience crackles into being so real as if you’d actually had it. If the poem delivers an unfamiliar experience, it becomes a revelation. That’s the definition of a great poem. It is the reason poetry can do more than move us. It changes us through the new experiences it calls forth.
fMRI studies reveal that poetry stimulates our pleasure centers, which would explain why poetry lovers are so avid. I’d like to share with you a lovely poem I heard on the Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor that tickled my pleasure centers. Garrison recites it in the most marvelously soothing voice. If you want to hear or read it, go here for the Friday, June 3rd, 2016 program of the Almanac.
The poem is Some Glad Morning by Minnesota poet laureate Joyce Sutphen. It begins,
One day, something very old
happened again. The green
came back to the branches
settling like leafy birds
Because it is a copyrighted work, I can’t print it in full. To read all of it, and I hope you do, here is the link again. Enjoy!
Can you guess which phrase lit my pleasure centers?
Finally, if you’re not ready to read poetry because you got the popular, however false, impression that poetry is hard, you now have an excellent justification to seek out the poetry that is right for you. The new studies show that reading poetry promotes introspection by activating the posterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobes. So, when your teacher suggested that poetry will help you evolve as a person, they* were right. I would add that poetry is one of those exquisite things that make the world better every day.
If you are one of the souls who have snubbed poetry, heartbreaking pleasure awaits you once you come across the poetry that speaks to you. Heartbreaking because it cracks your armor to let the light in.
My style of choice in American poetry is Midwestern because it is so down-to-earth. Of course, I also love the classics, but I don’t read them on a regular basis because the work to pleasure ratio is too high for me. But Midwestern, ahh…that is easy and so yummy!
Poetry from the South is different from poetry written in the heartland. Metropolitan is different than country. Evocative poetry paints a picture, rhetorical poems convey abstract ideas. The Poetry Foundation is a brilliant online browsing resource. A little digging, using these terms as keywords, and you’ll find your match. Do it, you’ll thank me.
Well my friend, that’s the end of this week’s post. I hope it made your brain boogie, your heart holler, and your mouth water for a little wildness. Salute and may you have a beautiful, beautiful day!
India Susanne Holden is the author of Crafting a Happy Life and The World Is Better than You Think. They are a writer, teacher, speaker, workshop & seminar leader, musician, artist, personal & spiritual development coach, Reiki Master, Tarot reader, entrepreneur, and genderqueer feminist.