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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Read Poetry: A guest post with Amy Brecount White

Hello! Welcome to the last stop in Amy Brecount White's Blog tour for her new novel Forget-Her-Nots, which released in stores March 2nd, 2010! I am lucky enough to have a guest post from Amy today giving her thoughts on Poetry, something very close to The Tainted Poet's heart.

Welcome Amy!

Why Read Poetry?

To start, let me say that I ADORE the name of this blog. The Tainted Poet. It’s so mysterious and full of possibilities. It makes me think of Lord Byron. It would also be a great name for a novel. Anything in the works, Eli? :) Now to the point….

Anyone who’s paid any attention to my blog or read Forget-Her-Nots knows that I have a thing for poetry. There are several wonderful poems quoted in FHN, and I’ve also hosted a LoveFlowerPoems contest on my blog (both reading and writing.) But poetry is difficult for lots of people. Sometimes, as with Shakespeare, it can seem like a foreign language. Poems often have to be read more than once to be understood. So why bother straining your brain?

First off, the language itself. Poetry is the tightest, most succinct, most resonant form of expression we have. Poets spin and toss and play with words more than any other writers. Sometimes the words nearly sing, especially if you read them aloud. (All poems should always be read aloud. You won’t get the rhythm and feel of the words rolling on your tongue otherwise.)

Secondly, the meanings. Poems are layered language. The poet has chosen his or her words so very carefully that they have tiers of meaning, which the reader must unfold. Look at this line from a Japanese Haiku poet named Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828).

“In the cherry blossom’s shade there’s no such thing as a stranger.”

On the surface, it’s very simple: one line, 12 words, seemingly straightforward. But what’s Issa really saying? Why can’t you be a stranger standing in the shade of a blooming cherry tree? The more you think about it, the more you realize that it’s about the power of beauty to overcome divisions between us. Wowed by the beauty of a cherry blossom, we reach out to one another to celebrate the fleeting moment. The rains will come and drive the petals to the ground. The hot sun will bake them. The blooms come only once a year, but for that moment, we are attuned to the wonder of the world, and appreciation for its beauty connects us all. All that in 12 words.

You might be wondering, did he really mean to say all that? I believe he did and more. Cherry blossoms have the special significance in the Japanese culture; they symbolize “the transient nature of life.” The Japanese even have a name for group excursions to view the blooms at their peak: hanami. They are also lovely to us Americans. Why else would thousands descend on Washington, D.C. to view the trees in bloom near our cherished national monuments. (I live outside D.C., so trust me, I know.) Find a cherry tree this spring and stand amidst its blooms and see if you feel what Issa means.

Thirdly, poems pack an emotional punch. They contain raw emotional truth. We often refer to poetry as the “language of love,” but it is truly the language of all emotions. Read these lines by William Wordsworth (1770-1850):

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er hills and dales.”

Don’t you just know exactly how he feels? Haven’t you felt that loneliness at times? It’s a poignant, moving image.

And anyone who has loved someone can’t help but be emotionally moved when Shakespeare tells his own love in the most famous sonnet ever written that “thy eternal summer shall not fade.” Then he goes on to explain how his own words, the lines of this sonnet he just wrote, have immortalized her beauty and his love for her.

For me, every poem is like a gift. It’s wrapped up in paper and may have lovely bows that I need to untie to reveal its hidden treasure. The most wonderful poems you can unwrap again and again. So here are a few of my favorite poems I give to you today:

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth.
[Poetic proof for the power of flowers to sway one’s mood.]

“Botanica” by Eve Alexandra. I just discovered this poet this year. I don’t know the whole meaning of this poem, but I could read it a hundred times without tiring of its sensual images and suggestiveness.

“Constantly Risking Absurdity” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. For me, this poem epitomizes the risks and rewards of the writing life in an amazing analogy. So fun!

Come visit me at And if you like these, I’m happy to recommend more poems I love.

Thanks so much for having me, Eli, in my grand finale for the SPREAD THE FLOWER LOVE BLOG TOUR!! Whew! This was fun.


Thank you so much for being here with us today, Amy! I LOVED your post!

Make sure to check out or buy Forget-Her Nots here: Amazon.

Also, to keep up with Amy's contest, I am giving you all a Scarlet Poppy! It means Fantastic Extravagance. Make sure you mention you got it from The Tainted Poet. ;)

Make sure to collect a virtu
al bouquet for Amy's contest, which you can find out more about on her blog! Not only can you find out more about her contest there, but also you can learn the meanings of various other flowers in her "The Language of Flowers" section. Make sure to check it out!


  1. Thank you for sharing your love towards poems, Amy. I don't really read so many poems unless it was recommended by others. I like the one with the title "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" you listed above. Another two favourite of mine are Invictus by William Ernest Henley and Evening Solace by Emily Bronte =)

  2. I love Cherry Blossoms. I think they're so pretty, and wish that there were more Cherry Blossom trees in my area. Sadly, there are few.

    I also really enjoy poetry, probably because you can interpret the lines in various different ways (even if some of my professors disagree).

  3. Great post. I enjoy poetry, but have to admit I don't read it very often. Once in a while I will stumble into a piece that is very inspiring.

  4. I'm reading Forget-Her-Nots right now! I love how each flower has a specific meaning... I knew that flowers had some types of meanings but I never knew how extensive it was! I know what Amy means about poetry. Sometimes the language is hard to decipher but if you try, you'll find the beauty behind the difficult language. :)

  5. I dont read poetry at all, I have when I was little... I should really try a good poetry book soon. The book sounds amazing, I'm listed for the international book tour. I cant wait to read the book.

  6. I'm not a fan of poetry. I can tolerate some of it, but I don't like all the lofty thinking. lol

  7. Well this year Ive trained my brain so much its not even funny. I am in AP literature and virtually all we do is read poetry.

    Poetry is good and meaningful, but I still prefer books.

  8. i like poetry when its smart and makes sense to me, but when it requires you to completely scramble underneath the words to get the meaning, i get annoyed only because i think a poem should have its meaning easily disguised, that or im a bit impatient. :)

  9. Great post. Thank you so much for sharing and doing this blog tour it was a lot of fun following.

  10. Great post! Now I want to try again with poetry. It's something that I've been meaning to do.


Don't hesitate to tell me what you think! I appreciate all types of feedback, so don't be shy! ;)

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