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Jim Moonan

Owner/Artistic Director, NorthWind Education

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What poems are most powerful to you?

I am astonished at how powerful poetic writing can be - yet poetry remains out of the reach of so many people today.

My hope is to collect here some of those poems that mean so much to people so that others can share the transcendant feeling that good poetry brings.

I would also like to know where others find their poetry - where are the best places to hear it, what are the publications that print it, the courses that teach how to read it, etc.

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  • May 7 2011: I think many academics try too hard. It is easier to relate to simple yet powerful poems. Like Debra said before, def poetry jam provides this kind of poetry. Rives also provides this kind of poetry. Or maybe spoken poetry is just easier to relate to?
    • May 7 2011: But is a poem 'good' when you can relate to it? I personally love the way poets can 'bend' language, using very specific words and constructions to create very specific sentences. I often find the words and their structure more beautiful than the meaning of the poem itself, although it often combines wonderfully as well (as in for example the poem by Pablo Neruda I posted below, although if possible it should preferably be read in it's original Spaninsh form). I do not specifically need to relate to the emotions or story portayed in the poem to enjoy it. I do agree that spoken poetry is easier to be impressed by, because some speakers are just so good at expressing a poem vocally. An art in itself!
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        May 7 2011: Great comments Bibi... I think, too, that good poetry always includes a "bending" of the language. It also can convey emotion in every bit as powerful a way as music. For me, a poem is very much like a landscape. Here is another Mary Oliver poem that is as visual as it is word perfect (for me!)

        The Journey

        One day you finally knew
        what you had to do, and began,
        though the voices around you
        kept shouting
        their bad advice--
        though the whole house
        began to tremble
        and you felt the old tug
        at your ankles.
        "Mend my life!"
        each voice cried.
        But you didn't stop.
        You knew what you had to do,
        though the wind pried
        with its stiff fingers
        at the very foundations,
        though their melancholy
        was terrible.
        It was already late
        enough, and a wild night,
        and the road full of fallen
        branches and stones.
        But little by little,
        as you left their voices behind,
        the stars began to burn
        through the sheets of clouds,
        and there was a new voice
        which you slowly
        recognized as your own,
        that kept you company
        as you strode deeper and deeper
        into the world,
        determined to do
        the only thing you could do--
        determined to save
        the only life you could save.
        -Mary Oliver
      • May 8 2011: I agree, but one does not dismiss the other

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