POETRY

Poetry invites us to notice and to explore

– the symptoms, confusion, loss, grief, and uncertainty of chronic pain and illness; to collect the moments and small victories; and to discover God’s still small voice in brand new ways.

WHAT IS POETRY?

By nature poetry is challenging to define. Some of the greats provide a bit of insight:

William Wordsworth wrote, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Robert Frost said, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

And Mary Oliver stated this, “Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”

 

POETRY INVITES US TO NOTICE

It invites us to notice – the slant of the late afternoon sun; the cool, refreshing water pouring from a tap; crisp sheets fresh from the line; the sweet nuzzle of a puppy; the bubbling laughter of a child; the smell of rich, black coffee; the creak of a wooden stair; the sigh of wind through firs – and to explore – the symptoms, confusion, loss, grief, and uncertainty of chronic pain and illness; to collect the moments, days and small victories; to follow the rhythm and sway of the words as they find their way to the page; to dip our fingers deeper into the wellspring of our faith; and to discover God’s still small voice in brand new ways.

“…[P]oetry,” writes Phyllis Klein, “gives rhythm to silence, light to darkness. In poetry we find the magic of metaphor, compactness of expression, use of the five senses, and simplicity or complexity of meaning in a few lines.”

POETRY REQUIRES STILLNESS, PATIENCE, AND TIME 

As an activity, poetry requires stillness and patience and time. Dr. Rowan Williams poignantly wrote, “… there are some poems that walk in and sit down. You hear them coming in … there are others where you have to listen and listen. It takes forever for things to assemble around the core.”

Rainier Maria Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet, wrote, “Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves … Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer.”

POETRY INVITES US TO LEAN INTO THE QUESTIONS

Illness challenges us with difficult emotions and strings of difficult days. Poetry invites us to lean into the questions we face without needing immediate answers, to pause and breathe and listen, to quietly notice.

Roger Housden said, “Poetry is a way of rescuing the world from oblivion by the practice of attention. It is our attention that honors and gives value to living things … that retrieves them from the obscurity of the general. Poems that galvanize my attention shake me awake. They pass on their attentiveness, their prayerfulness, to me … poetry can make us more fully human, and more fully engaged in this world.”

POETRY ENGAGES US

It engages us with our senses, creation, and God. Furthermore, It offers us a way to observe, to hold the moments in our hands, turn them over, and look at them from a new perspective. It is another way to process the emotions of chronic illness, to explore, create, and find our voice. 

Poetry, as Mary Oliver might say, calls to us like wild geese from an open sky.

Poetry Prompts

Poetry Written for Children

Poetry written for children is like skipping straight to dessert. It’s often funny or nature-focused. Children’s poetry is usually short, and it often rhymes. It may make you feel nostalgic or turn your attention toward the small, holy thing in your midst, like autumn leaves.

READ MORE

"Poetry written for children is like skipping straight to dessert." Megan Willome

Love Poems to God

Catherine of Sienna, a nun who lived in Italy in the 14th century, was also a poet. Many of her poems are love poems to God.

READ MORE

"My feet are tired, Lord ... So much of life is toil. How often do we stop and hear the music?" Megan Willome

Poetry Posts

Broken Pieces Transformed and Made New

After being hit with a chronic illness, we may feel broken, yet we remain whole. We can embrace what the Lord does with the pieces of our lives as He meets us where we are, and then heals our hearts and leads us forward, in His time and in His way.

READ MORE

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." Proverbs 17:17

Poetry Books

Book of Hours: In Shadow and Sun

Jamie Wright Bagley

For the souls who are crying out for nourishment in the midst of the pressures of daily living, this book is for you. For tired hearts feeling lost, scattered, restless, uninspired, this book is for you. For those who find their hours slipping past too quickly, and long to make their moments count, this book is for you.

Buy from Amazon

Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

David Whyte

52 ordinary words, each its own particular doorway into the underlying currents of human life. Each word inviting readers into a poetic and thoughtful consideration of words whose meaning and interpretation influence the paths we choose and the way we traverse them throughout our lives.

Buy from Amazon

100 Names of God

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as "far and away, this country's best selling poet" by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years.

Buy from Amazon

 

Guerrillas Of Grace: Prayers For The Battle

Ted Loder

An Embarrassingly Beautiful Collection of Prayers
For nearly two decades, this classic collection of tough, beautiful, and earthy prayers has lightened hearts and dared spirits to soar.

Buy from Amazon

If by Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael

A little book, based on First Corinthians 13, about showing Calvary love in common life. “If…I have not compassion on my fellow-servant, even as my Lord had pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Buy from Amazon

The Joy of Poetry: How to Keep, Save & Make Your Life with Poems

Megan Willome

Part memoir, part humorous and poignant defense of poetry, this is a book that shows you what it is to live a life with poems at your side. Megan's story is one you won't want to put down; meanwhile, her uncanny ability to reveal the why's and how's of poetry keeps calling—to even the biggest poetry doubter. If you already enjoy poetry, her story and her wisdom and her ways will invite you to go deeper, with novel ideas on how to engage with poems.

Buy from Amazon

Mountain Breezes

Amy Carmichael

An anthology of most of the poetry of Amy Carmichael - 565 poems gathered from her published books. The untitled poems were given titles and all were arranged by the editors under seven major headings: worship, petition, surrender, ministry, wartime, encouragement and youthful thoughts.

Buy from Amazon

 

Patient Poets: Illness from Inside Out

Marilyn Chandler Mcentyre

Readers are invited to consider what caregivers and medical professionals may learn from poetry by patients. It offers reflections on poetry as a particularly apt vehicle for articulating the often isolating experiences of pain, fatigue, changed life rhythms, altered self-understanding, embarrassment, resistance, and acceptance.

Buy from Amazon

 

The Amazon buttons are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chronic Joy will receive an affiliate commission.

Even More

Pin It on Pinterest

Skip to content