Busy as a Working Father Bee

Advice and insight from a professional poet.

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I used to write and read poems often when I was in college, but now I have a demanding job and a family with three kids. I’m just too busy these days, and I fear that poetry has become a thing of my past. How can a regular guy bring more poetry into his life without dedicating hours of scholarship?
–James

 

PoetryDaily.com, VerseDaily.com, Poets.org, and probably lots of other sites include a poem each day on their webpage. You can sign up to have poems e-mailed directly to you, and if you find the time between this or that obligation, you could read them. You may not have time to read a poem every day, but two a week is certainly better than no poems at all. Or if your inbox is already too full, you could buy a day calendar dedicated to poetry, with each page and day of the calendar year including a brief poem (they exist, I know, because I’ve received a few as gifts). As you’re sipping your morning coffee, you could read something that will likely make the day more appealing, more manageable, something that will make you excel at the daily tasks that allow our world to move forward.

As far as writing more poems, I believe that life and experience are integral to this endeavor.  You need to exercise, of course, by actually writing poetry, but what you are doing now — living — is building muscle mass, and you can put those strong muscles to use after life has slowed somewhat and you have more time to put yourself on a poem-writing regiment. If you have a bad memory, as I do, keep a small notebook under your pillow and jot a few notes down each night about your current activities and observations before you sleep. I wouldn’t worry yourself too much, though — the fact that you are concerned about poetry having a place in your life tells me that poetry already has such a place.

“O Me! O Life!”

O Me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless — of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light — of the objects mean — of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all — of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest — with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring — What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here — that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

(Walt Whitman)

17 August 2010

Kristen Hoggatt lives, works, and writes in Boston, where she received her MFA from Emerson College. She volunteers at 826 Boston.
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