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Filtering by Tag: poetry

13 poems that just might get under your skin (and change your life)

liz lamoreux


I love poetry. Poets save me with their truth-telling, getting-right-to-it, you-are-not-alone ways. And lately, I've begun to feel like we need them more than ever before.

Here are 13 poems that just might change your life. At the very least, they will get under your skin and make you think. And if you're new to poetry, they just might make you fall in love with it.

1. "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry: My mother sends out emails to a group of us a few times a week. They are dispatches to support the resistance, filled with information and encouragement. I sent her this poem after she sent the last one. It's one we all need. (And you can hear Mr. Berry read it when you click through. The best.)

2. "Enough" by David Whyte: This poem is short, and really it's at the heart of what I hope you most know to be true. If you're new to David Whyte, start with River Flow, which is a collection of his poems from his first five volumes of poetry. I also highly recommend his audio CDs of poetry and non-fiction. 

3. "Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins: When you click through, you can also hear him read it. Go ahead and do that right now.

This is the part where I tell you (and tell me), please make sure all the poets you read aren't white men. So let's dig deeper into the world of poetry, shall we?

4. "won't you celebrate with me" by Lucille Clifton: Love her words here on "where ideas come from" and the importance of attention.  

5. "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye: This poem feels like one of the most important things we can read right now. 

6. "French Chocolates" by Ellen Bass: This poem gets right to the truth of what it feels like when you are going through the shit of life and people keep saying platitudes and you keep wondering if you're invisible. I freaking love this poem.

8. "Persimmons" by Li-Young Lee. Read this one aloud. And then read it aloud again tomorrow. And then the day after. Read it until you can feel the dance of the language and the heartache and the beauty twirling together.

9. "Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes: This poem. This poem. This poem. Please read the whole thing. Out loud. And then sit in the quiet, thinking, listening, learning.

10. "I Am Offering This Poem" by Jimmy Santiago Baca: I read this poem through a few times but it wasn't until I head the poet read it himself that I felt it in my bones. Listen to him read it here.

11. "The Powwow at the End of the Earth" by Sherman Alexie: This poem is like a sermon. Pay attention.

12. "Apollo" by Elizabeth Alexander: For a poem to really capture me, there has to be a sense of place - meaning I have to be able to get my footing as a reader. Maybe the reality is that I just need this sense of place to "get" the poem and it has nothing to do with the poet. This poem immediately gives a sense of place while shoving me into a part of the story I'd never have thought of if the poet hadn't written this.

13. "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver: If you know me well, you are probably wondering how I got all the way to 13 before mentioning Mary Oliver. I imagine I'll do a 13 Things post just about her. Until then, read this one. And even better, listen to Mary read it when you click through. This is one of her most famous poems, and I put it on this list because even if you know it, it is one to read again and again as it sinks into your bones. Also, the collection of poems in Red Bird always bring me home when I'm off center.

What poems have pushed you and gotten under your skin? Please share in the comments.

And if you feel a poem inside you start to brew, to dance, to speak aloud, start writing, dear one. Start writing right now.

how to fall in love with poetry {part two}

liz lamoreux

It's National Poetry Month, and each Monday, I'm sharing a few words about poetry in the hope that you'll fall in love. Today, let's get to the reading a poem part of poeming it out.

My life changed forever when I read Derek Walcott’s poem “Love After Love” in 2005. It was like looking into a mirror and upon seeing my reflection knowing I would never truly be able to believe my self-talk the next time I felt so damn lonely.

Because there would always be poetry.

Last week, I invited you to get into your poet's heart by being curious. Today, I want you to open that heart even wider by reading a few poems. 

Let's start with "Breakage" by Mary Oliver (though if you don't know "The Summer Day" or "The Journey" please read them both. Right now. I'll wait.)

Then go on to "Faith" by David Whyte.

Followed by "Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins.

And then "Early in the Morning" by Li-Young Lee 

And finally, here is one from me:

Yes, Just One
by Liz Lamoreux 

Just one? she asked.
I nodded.
But as I sat alone,
glancing at the menu,
I wanted to stand up and say:

Yes, just one.

Just one woman who has been broken open by love and sewn together by living.

Just one woman who has unearthed the stories she had tucked away inside the corners of herself.

Just one woman who holds grief in one hand and joy in the other.

Just one woman who hears the wind whisper the stories of those who came before her.

Just one woman who believes she must choose rest over expectations.

Just one woman who sees truth and beauty in her reflection.

Just one woman who swims with the whales while she sleeps.

Just one woman who cries when she hears Paul Simon play his guitar.

Just one woman who never thought she would be a mother.

Just one woman who feels cocooned by the push and pull of the sea.

Just one woman who listens for reminders to trust.

Just one woman who holds onto the hope of spring’s first crocus.

Yes, just one woman who opens her heart to love each day,
Even when it rains,
Even when the missing sets in,
Even when fear nips at her toes,
Even when it seems impossible.

Are you feeling it yet? The rhythm of poetry that lives inside you? If you're feeling a spark of recognition or even of something you can't quite describe, I encourage you to keep reading, keep searching for the poets who are just waiting to be companions for your journey. 

If you want to keep reading poems, here are some more favorites (be sure to also read the comments of that post).

"Yes, Just One" is from my poetry collection Five Days in April. You can read more about it and purchase a signed copy here.

how to fall in love with poetry {part one}

liz lamoreux

I've been known to say that poetry is a lot like cilantro. People really love. Or they pretty much don't want it around. Phrases like, "I don't get it" or "Poetry is just too confusing to me" or "I'm just not into it" are the ones I hear most often when I tell people that I teach poetry as a form of creative self care. Lots of people have the story about that one teacher in high school who made them read a whole bunch of poetry they didn't like.

And I get it. Some poetry can be really tough to understand. Or it can take reading a poem out loud once or twice to get into the rhythm of it. Or you might have to keep looking until you find the poetry that speaks to you. But what might happen if you tried?

Poetry is one of the lifelines I hold onto when life is getting a bit upside down. What do I mean? Poetry reminds me that I'm not alone. It gently pushes me to step outside the old stories and open my eyes to the wonder around me. It sometimes makes me a bit uncomfortable. It stitches my heart back together. It is a tiny lantern in moments of darkness. It is a lighthouse. It is home.

April is National Poetry Month here in the US and over the next few Mondays, I want to share a few ideas to help you (yes, you) fall in love with poetry. Or fall even deeper in love if you're already hooked.

Begin with curiosity

Think about the way a child walks through the world with her eyes open wide, curious about the world around her. Everything is new. So many questions to ask and new worlds to explore. 

This is how a poet walks through the world. A poet asks, "Why?" In fact I think a poet asks, "WHY?" in all caps because poets really are the truth tellers of our time. Even when that "why?" might be whispered because the world is afraid to answer, they ask it anyway. And then they write down what they hear.

Poets look at the big human topics life grief and love and loss and anger and rage and gorgeous wide joy. They put down the truth about what it means to not fit in and not be heard and not be seen in the world. Poets take what other writers spend pages explaining and say it in a few lines that can take your breath away. But we'll get to all this on another day.

This week, I want you to just open up to being curious as you move through your day.

Take a few minutes over the next few days and ask yourself WHY as you encounter your world. Look under things. Ask questions. Look closer. Describe what you find. You might even want to keep a notebook near you to write down your observations.

Doing this will open up the poet heart inside you.

Feel free to come back here and tell me what you find. 


And if this idea of opening up to curiosity has you already excited and ready to put pen to the page, check out my ecourse Poem It Out, which dives deep into the world of poetry and shares juicy poems and prompts to inspire you to get the poems just waiting inside you out into the world.

from revolutionary lips

liz lamoreux

I often say that poetry saves me. It gets under my skin and into my bones and pushes me to pay attention. It opens a door for me and I suddenly find myself in a room surrounded by others who want to talk about the unexpected beauty found in the messy, gritty, grief-filled moments that happen in a life. 

Poetry has helped me find a home inside myself where I know I'm not alone.

Reading Amy Palko's new poetry collection, From Revolutionary Lips, was like opening that door again and stepping inside a candlelit room filled with women who aren't afraid to tell it - the real, the sexy, the gorgeous, the messy truth inside them.

Over the last few years, I've been walking a path of women mending after going through trauma when my daughter was born. And this mending has been slow and hard and beautiful and painful and confusing. This mending happens in the space between moments as I move from mother to wife to entrepreneur to friend... and try to remember I'm always me even as the roles topple into one another. 

The grief mingled in all of it catches me off guard at times. I find myself taking a step forward with shaky vulnerability and then whoosh! I'm discombobulated and simply sad and unable to say aloud what my heart, what my body, most needs.

Reading Amy's words, being ushered into the door that her poetry opened, has felt like someone has held up a mirror to the swirling feelings inside me. This collection is sexy and raw; it's full of the stories women grasp inside fists while thinking "no one else must feel this way."

Amy's words will remind you that you aren't alone in your desires and the mysterious longings inside you. They are an invitation to freedom. And she weaves her gorgeous self-portraits between the poems so you remember that she's walking this path alongside you.

Yes yes yes.

Here's one of my favorite poems from Amy's collection paired with her self-portrait.

by Amy Palko 

Grounding in the bowl
of my pelvis, feeling
the rub, that place of pain
and discomfort, that red raw
weeping wound bleeding
rust coloured tears…

She says stay with me.
She says stay with the discomfort.
She says stay with the pain.

Don't try to escape it.
Don't try to remove yourself, transcend
in any way from the experience
of this moment,
and the next,
and the next.

She says just be with.
She says just be with and receive

She says see -
This is where the light gets in.
And out.

You can read more about From Revolutionary Lips and buy it (plus the audio and hear Amy's gorgeous voice read these poems) right here.

Amy Palko is the creatrix of Red Thread Voices - a publishing house that aims to offer a home to the voice of exiled feminine, She is also a goddess guide, poet, photographer and lecturer whose work has been featured internationally. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband and three teenage children, in their home that overlooks the deep harbour, and the wide mouth of the River Forth as it opens up to swallow the cold waters of the North Sea.

female poets: a place to begin

liz lamoreux

Yesterday, I shared that I'm thinking about the tables I want to sit at when having conversations about the beautiful questions (as David Whyte calls them), and one part of this is sharing more about poetry here on my blog and reading and sharing more female poets.

So here's a list of just a few to get you exploring. Because poets tend not to have personal websites, I'm linking to Poetry Foundation for you to learn more about these female truth tellers and adventurers and read more of their poems. Please feel free to share other female poets and your favorite poems in the comments. I'd love this post to become a beautiful resource for all of us.

Naomi Shihab Nye: Her poem "Kindness" is one of my favorites. I also love her collection Red SuitcaseWhat Have You Lost? is often by my bedside; it's a collection of poems by others she gathered on that topic. 

Marge Piercy: I remember the first time I read "The Day My Mother Died" and stood rereading it again and again, my mouth agape with that "I'm not the only one" kind of feeling swirling around me. I also love the poem "Colors Passing Through Us." And her collection The Moon Is Always Female must be mentioned in this week's poetry conversation.

Sharon Olds: Her poem "I Go Back to May 1937" was the first poem that caused me to say "Oh shit" out loud (there have been others). I've written about it several times (including here), but I have to mention it today because of the way it tells a story so many of us touch around the edges of but seldom have words for. Her collection "The Father" is about her father's illness and death and her reflections on all of it. It is gritty and masterful. In other collections she writes about the real stuff of motherhood and holds nothing back. Here she is reading "The Clasp." (Wow. Just wow.)

Jane Kenyon: I have Kenyon's Collected Poems. I pick it up, read one maybe two poems, then try to catch my breath and put it down for two to four months, then repeat the process. I could probably devote an entire blog post to explain why, but part of me really wants you to discover her on your own and begin your own conversations with her. A few for you to begin with: "Let Evening Come," "Happiness" (you can hear her read it), and "The Shirt," which might just surprise you and make you laugh out loud.

Diane Ackerman: I'm a big fan of Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses and have had A Natural History of Love on my shelf for a long time. It's now in the pile of books I'm hoping to read this winter. With these books though, you get more of her naturalist/poet self; they aren't filled with poems. You can dive into her poetry in Origami Bridges. And here's one for you to read right now: "We Are Listening."

Elizabeth Bishop: Her personal story just really captures me. She is now recognized as one of the great American poets, but she wasn't well known while alive. So many of her poems rhyme, which is also intriguing to me. Here's one for you: "Full Moon, Key West."

and of course, Mary Oliver: She's my favorite poet. The one I turn to daily. At retreats, I will often pick up one of her books from the basket of poetry I have beside me and just turn to a poem. It is almost always the one the group needs to hear at that point in the retreat. Magic. Her poems often chronicle the walks she takes each day. And they just tell the real stuff about life...about being a human in this beautiful, heartbreaking world. I'm so grateful for her. I pretty much recommend every collection, but Red Bird is a great one to start with. And here's one of her poems, "Breakage," for you to read aloud again and again.

And then there's Nikki Giovanni and Kathleen Norris and Marianne Moore and Susan Howe...there are so many others. Please do share your own favorites in the comments.

Tomorrow our week of poetry continues, so please do meet me back here.

because poetry should be read aloud

liz lamoreux

I've recorded a poem for you today.

Because sometimes there are just words you need to hear...words you think someone else might need too.

Because sometimes you need to hear these words aloud so you can write them on your heart...so you can feel less alone.

The poem is called "Flotsam."

It's written by me and you can find it in the poetry collection Five Days in April in my shop.

Just click "Flotsam" below to listen to this short poem.





i'm thinking about you..

liz lamoreux


The above quote is from my video post below. The video is a little letter from me to you today. 

video URL: http://vimeo.com/53613292

In the video, I read the poem "For strong women" by Marge Piercy (from The Moon Is Always Female, you can read the poem here).

Thank you for being out there sharing your light, your stories, your you.ness.


PS The poem has a couple of words that might not be okay for little ears.