Reading to Write

It’s no secret that the key to writing poetry is to read poetry. The cool thing is that poems are usually rather short, so it isn’t as daunting as trying to read a 300 page novel or non-fiction book. And reading poems allows you a moment of quiet focus – presence. Focus in another world – escape. A world that expands your mind and spirit – growth/imagination. And it spurs you into formulating new poems for yourself! Win-win : ) One of my favorite poets is Naomi Shihab Nye. Reading her work never ceases to inspire me. She also has a word or two to say about a poet’s responsibility:

Personally speaking, as a poet, I have three duties:
-to be in love with writing, find joy in it, to have fun with it, to feel an immense connection

-to engage the reader and evoke empathy – empathy for what it is that I am writing about – be that a river, a tree, a culture, a situation, an emotion (empathy for the world around us)

-to give pleasure, peace, joy, presence

I am enormously grateful for the gift of poetry, and it is my hope that I may expand the world just a little bit.



Hidden                                         by Naomi Shihab Nye

If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.



(Fern photo by

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