Change

“Change is natural;

just look at me.

The tides fall in and out;

colors creep their way up the greenery of trees;

babies get taller and stronger

and ask questions like

‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’

instead of just, ‘Why?'”

I know that.

I thought you knew that.

So why is the air between us

dead?

Guest Post: How I Got Into Poetry

I’ve talked a bit before about my sister over at The Casual Philosopher, which in her words is “a platform for my random discourse with myself on things that interest me, which can be as relevant as book reviews and societal muses, or as stupid as figuring out exactly what makes an actor’s face memorable.  I’ll tell you a secret: on Eddie Redmayne, it’s the muscle around the mouth, the orbicularis oris.”  We’re both bookworms, but while I am mostly into YA and occasional memoirs, she prefers the classics and poetry.  With much more pride than is really necessary, I introduce Rhoda Marshall.

I talk about poetry an awful lot on my blog, and I’m sure some of you (if you follow her, and if you don’t, you should) are tired of my constant blather. But believe it or not, I wasn’t always into poetry. None of my immediate family is as into poetry as I am, and I’ve only been really into poetry for about a year and a half, though it feels like I’ve been here my whole life.

I can distinctly remember my ignorant younger self saying I wasn’t a poetry person. I’ve always been into books, but I used to quite dislike poetry, though, thankfully, I never got to the point where I really hated it. I think sometime during my brief public school career, a teacher introduced me to Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, which got me rather hooked on Shel Silverstein, to the point where I collected all four of his children’s poetry anthologies, but I called myself a “Shel Silverstein person,” still not a poetry person.

Through high school, of course, I was made to read and analyze poetry, which I didn’t mind too much, because I really just don’t mind school. I had specific poems I liked, and I even memorized several of my own accord, but for some reason, I still didn’t say I liked poetry in general, which, looking back on it, seems odd to me, what with those memorized poems and all. I had even written about five poems before I bought the book that catapulted me into poetry-person-dom.

Perhaps my conversion to a poetry person was more of a gradual change than a turn-around, but even if it was, I can still peg the exact point that my fate was sealed. I was in a Barnes & Noble in Virginia, at Christmastime with all my cousins. I was going through one of those reflective periods that people kind of go through in cycles, where you feel the need to examine and understand the poignant parts of life and history so that you can look at the happy parts of the world with more understanding and appreciation. I wasn’t looking for anything real specific. I always have a list of books I’d like to buy, but none of it was especially pressing. So I’d wandered around for a while, picking books up and putting them back down, when I found myself in front of the small section of poetry. I was poking through Dante’s Divine Comedy, which we read a few years ago in lit class, when my attention was diverted to another title: Some Desperate Glory, by Max Egremont, a book of Great War poetry.

The title captured the poignant-romantic mood I was in, so I picked it up, flipped through it, and bought it right there. I spent every dollar I had with me, then went back to continue wandering with my cousins. This book fit just the mood I had been in and continued to be in for a few more weeks. It’s a thoughtful anthology, and it was just what I needed to flip me to poetry-person-dom.

I kept this book by my bed for about a month, and would read a bit from it before I went to bed. About the time I was finishing it up, Book Week came along. During February, schools were closed for nearly two straight weeks where I live, which is highly unusual, and during the second week, my friend and I had cabin fever so bad we went out gallivanting. We visited a total of five book-establishments in five days, and bought way more books than, as poor starving students, we could really afford. Two of these book joints stand out as more significant to my poetry-loving journey than the others. One was a tiny used book shop about an hour from where we live, where, in my new found appreciation for poetry, I bought a big, blue book of general poetry, published in 1942, a chronological book of poetry from Tennyson to Whitman, and a Penguin paperback of more WWI poetry. The other, which we visited on the same day, was a local thrift store, where I bought a Reader’s Digest edition of 101 Famous Poems someone had compiled.

Book Week pretty much sealed my fate as a poetry person. As I slowly went through all of my new books, finding poems I already knew, and finding more that whispered to me, my transition to hard-core poetry lover was complete. I continued writing poetry, and did it more frequently. I regularly pick up one of my books and just flip through it, to see what jumps out at me that day. Through this, I’ve discovered loads of great poems, which have defined things I’ve believed in but haven’t been able to say concisely, such as “How Did You Die?” by Edmund Vance Cooke, and given me tools to stay inspired, such as “Thanksgiving,” by Robert Graves, to name two of the innumerable ways I’ve used and enjoyed all these words.

On my own blog I tried a Top Ten type thing one time, but they’re simply too numerous and I can’t just pick poems that mean the most to me, because if I read them and liked them enough to consider for a list, then they deserve to be on it. So here’s the first ten random poems (besides the couple I’ve already mentioned) I’ve written in my Books of Wisdom.

“Opportunity,” by Edward R. Still
“Gethsemane,” by Rudyard Kipling
“The Example,” by W. H. Davies
“The King’s Tragedy,” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
“Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth,” by Arthur Hugh Clough
“There is no Frigate like a Book,” by Emily Dickinson
“O World,” by George Santyana
“Invitation,” by Shel Silverstein
“Big Red,” by Joseph Alvie Estes
‘Masks,” by Shel Silverstein

One other good thing that has come out of my new love of poetry is the Word Shakers. Word Shakers is a poetry club sort of thing I started with my closest friends. Its full story is on my own blog, but a few months ago, we wrote poems describing the group on the spot, impromptu. My own poetry has become more prolific because I’m now unabashedly into poetry, and here’s my Word Shakers poem, as an example. I don’t have the others’ permission to publish theirs, otherwise I’d show you those too.

“Word Shakers”
Rhoda Marshall
06.02.15
The world was too little for us.
Casual conversation and the fumes from the bus
That was taking us down the great wide way;
The way to apathy and gloom,
The way to miss birdsong and revel by light of the moon.
The world was too little for us.
We wanted to watch the pixies prance
Upon a Summer’s night.
So we started to get up before the light
When the magic of nighttime was still on our minds,
To shake the world that was too little for us.
To use the words which God has given,
To move the mountains and make a difference.
To make the world too much.

That pretty much concludes my journey from non-poetry to poetry-person. Now that I’ve been in it for a while, I’ve adopted my book philosophy to go with poetry as well. I think everyone has their poem. Not everyone will become a poetry lover, but I really believe there’s a poem out there for everyone, one that will whisper to them, and really mean something, so that they’ll carry it around forever. It’s only a matter of finding it.

Book Review: Rain in December by Emily Rachelle

4.5

Amazon Description

Rain in December is young author Emily Rachelle’s first collection of poetry.

star-crossed lovers

I’ll reach to the stars
I’ll reach to the moon
I’ll reach through the galaxy far
To find you, my dearest,
My darling, my love,
And be in the place where you are.

Normally, I am not a poetry person.  Although I enjoy the occasional rhyme, you won’t find me seeking out verse to read.  This, however, was extremely enjoyable, and I’m incredibly glad I own a copy because this is something I will come back to.

The writing is simultaneously lyrical and poignant, beautiful and raw. Since it is written from a young adult perspective, I identified deeply with much of the book, which is split into four parts: Love, Laughter, Life, and Darkness. I already knew I loved Emily Rachelle’s writing from her blog (find the link below!), and this collection didn’t disappoint.

Love

This part was the longest, and my favorite by far.  Each poem definitely shines on its own, but together they tell a story.  It was very cool to read through the poems quickly, putting them together like puzzle pieces to create something more than the sum of their parts.  (It read almost like Karen Hesse’s novel Out of the Dust, which is a novel written like a collection of poems.)  And there is something for every stage of love in this section — there are poems that embody the floaty feeling of being in love and poems that crash down with us when we experience heartbreak.

Laughter, Life, Darkness

These sections were a mishmash of thoughts on life, some Seussical and Silverstein-esque, and some more serious. Even the more lighthearted poems made a point, however, as in “Worrywart.”  When I read this, I was beginning to come up on finals, so it was easy to identify.  These sections also encompassed life’s bigger wonderings.  Everyone wonders if they will ever make a difference, and Emily addresses that.  She makes the reader feel less alone.  Though the poems speak to the struggles of life, they also speak to the hope we have in others, in outside opportunities, and in ourselves.

Emily Rachelle is a talented writer, and easy to identify with.  While she writes from an obviously young adult perspective, her poems can speak to readers of all ages.  Her ideas transcend time and experience and she has a unique way of putting them on the page.  My only complaint was a few misspelled words in my Kindle version, and I wasn’t sure whether this was intentional for poetic purposes or not.  However, overall, the quality of the book and the writing were fantastic, and I would recommend this for anyone — poetry lovers and otherwise.

Visit Emily on…

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My Own Choices Mock Me

You’d think that by now I’d know to take precautions against my ever-changing mind.  You’d think I would know to apply for other schools’ scholarships even if I think I know where I’m going.  You’d think I would know myself well enough to know what I most enjoy doing.  You’d think.

I wonder, in hindsight, if I didn’t just choose a school to get it over with.  College decisions are so, so stressful, and I wanted mine made before the new year.  Which it was.  But now I’m second-guessing.

For a long time I was planning on majoring in music, but I ditched that idea about a year ago.  You have to really adore music — and be good at it — to do that.  I like music, but not enough to make it my whole life.

After I scrapped music I decided I wanted to major  in economics — a strange switch, I know.  At the time I had just begun an AP econ course, which I was really enjoying.  But that, too, grew old.

Then I remembered the results on the spiritual gifts test I took last year — my top gift was administration.  So I thought, why not put that attribute to good use?  I’ll major in basic business or business management.  I’m good at organizing.

That was my most recent thought.  The school I picked has a very good business program, is close to home but not too close, and is very affordable.  I picked it, and I thought, this is it.  I didn’t want to deal with college choices anymore.  So I deleted or recycled mail I got from my other top schools.  Forget applying for scholarships to those schools.  Forget watching out for deadlines.

But like I said, now I’m second-guessing.  I love to write, and am wondering if I shouldn’t major in English or journalism.  I love clothes and sewing, and am wondering if I shouldn’t go to a liberal arts school where I can explore all my interests at once.  I chose a tech school, and am now wondering if that was entirely the wrong choice.  What if I messed up my chances for switching schools if I need to? What if I waste a year at the wrong school?  What if I end up having to stay at home another year?  I don’t think I could stand it.

Why is this so hard?

Choices

Options swirling

Futures looming, fighting

My fingers pick one

It mocks me.

Missing the Window

Once I read a book about a girl who wrote poetry.  She had an interesting way of writing it.  She would think of an entire poem at a time – it would just pop into her head – and then she had a few-minute window in which to write it down.  If she didn’t write it down, she lost it.  It was gone.

I write (really bad) poetry occasionally when I’m feeling deep.  Or when I’m at the library doing physics and don’t feel like doing physics anymore.  I was penning some lines today when I thought of that book.  And, since I was in deep mode, something occurred to me.

Where do those poems come from?  Do they begin life inside her head and then leave like a bird leaving the nest?  Or were they always sitting around in the atmosphere and she just happened to walk through them?

And if that girl loses her poetry, where does it go?  Will anyone else pick it up as it floats around in space?  Or will all these verses disintegrate into average, everyday thoughts?  Will it dissipate, to be put back together by someone else – will it be, in effect, reborn?  Or will it just sit in time, lost to us forever?

That begs the question, what genius have we lost in moments of time?  What new technology, what creative expression, what profound realization is gone because someone missed the window?

Never

This want

This inelegant longing

This passive act

So one-sided

Will not bear fruit.