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Poetry Share Update

I just thought I’d report on my progress with Poetry Share. You might recall that on April 1st, I had decided to celebrate National Poetry Month by sharing poems all around. I started that very day and it has been so much fun and quite surprising. I also asked you to join me. Please let me know how it’s gone for you, since I am certain that all of you have been very busy at it, as well.

So here is my report. I’ve shared copies of the following poems: Mary Oliver’s “Percy Speaks While I’m Doing the Taxes” (on April 15th) and “The Journey;” Seamus Heaney’s “Postscript;” Ellen Bass’ “Gate C-22;” e.e. cummings’ “[In Just]-“; Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things;” “Summons” by Robert Francis; and “Yes,” by William Stafford. Is that all of them? I think there are more. In any case, I’ve given out almost 300 copies of these poems and now you can click on them and read them for yourself, so by now I bet I’m way ahead on the count. Not that it’s a contest, of course.

I was a little bit nervous to do it at first, as I began with pickleball players at my gym. The pickleball crowd is very mixed, people from all walks of life, and I had no idea how some of them would respond to being handed a poem. Boy, was I ever surprised! They loved them. No one turned me down, even though every day I was handing them out again. I did, of course, give out great ones and new ones each day. One of the guys, a self-described “bum,” who says he educated himself at the public library, brought a very nice poem he’d written, to share with everyone. Another said he also writes poetry and a couple of them declared that they thought poetry should rhyme, prompting a fun discussion.

I dropped poems into the Suggestion Box at the gym, and left a few lying on tables where you can sit and wait for someone or eat a snack. As I got bolder, I started handing the day’s poem to the attendant at the desk. Big happy smiles greeted me every time. I handed them to people who were collecting signatures for petitions outside of the gym or the Post Office or the Farmer’s Market or the library. Almost to a person, people’s faces lit up when I gave them. Only one guy, in line behind me at the Post Office on Tax Day, declined, even though we’d been chatting. He is the only one. It has been so much fun.

I’ve handed some to people I know that I’ve run into on the street but also to a few people I just met on a walk. Again, they were so happy to get them! I hung a new one each day on my mailbox for the postman. Once he saw that they were for him, he, too, looked forward to getting them, thanked me, and took them along with him.

I put some in Little Libraries and inside of books I was returning to the library. I put them in pants pockets and purses for sale at the thrift shop. I forgot about putting one in my tax check and have failed, oddly, to give them to good friends and adult piano students. But I’ve done pretty well and it has been one of the more fun things I’ve done. One of these days I’ll hand out a poem that I’ve written.

So tell me–have you shared any and if so, what happened? And if not, why not? It’s fun!

” . . . everyone here [in heaven] can read and write, the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.” – Billy Collins, from The Revenant

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” ~ Khalil Gibran

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” ~ T.S. Eliot

“I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is prose; words in their best order; – poetry; the best words in the best order.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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