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Filtering by Category: poem it out

peonies and poetry

liz lamoreux


Years ago, I used to share about poetry on Thursdays. In Hand to Heart, we've started this tradition again and today, as my love affair with the peony deepens, I feel moved to make today about poetry in this space too. They're connected for me, peonies and poetry.

Everything about the peony is waiting to appear in a poem. And Mary Oliver captures this truth so gorgeously in her poem "Peonies." An excerpt:

the flowers bend their bright bodies, 
and tip their fragrance to the air, 
and rise, 
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness 
gladly and lightly, 
and there it is again — 
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open. 

On Monday after school, Ellie and I went to Trader Joe's and there they were in the flower section, like tightly closed dreams unsure of where to begin. Ellie did not understand why I wanted to buy them. They weren't eagerly reaching for our attention like the roses she ran to when we walked in or the daises bobbing along to the music. No. They were hiding, and I had to walk all the way around the display to find them camouflaged next to the bursting with hints of summer bouquets you can give your mom this Sunday.

I told her, "These are magical flowers. I know they don't look like much right now. But, you're going to love watching them bloom."

We agreed that I'd put a couple in her room and she could keep an eye on them, so she was content to humor me.

And while she was away at school the next day, the magic began to unfold in a little bedroom with purple walls.

That evening, she was getting her pajamas out of the drawer and spotted them. "MAMA! Come quick! I can't even believe this."

Pink petals opening like a skirt twirling in slow motion.

Her face was so full of joy. Of delight. Of "how is this even possible?"

Now, when she gets home from school, she rushes to her room to see if they've opened even more, and she runs back out, grabs us each by the hand with excitement in her voice saying, "Look! Look! They're even bigger!!!" 

This morning as I watch them while the birds sing so loudly around us and the blooms seem to stretch even more before my very eyes, I hold the beauty in one hand and the knowledge that their lives are so brief in the other.

I think that perhaps the reason we're drawn to the peony like the eager bees and ants that nestle inside their blooms is because it is the closest thing we have to a phoenix.

These huge heavy bursting blooms are an access point to wonder, to that unwavering truth that spring comes again even when our hearts try to convince us it won't.

("Peonies" appears in Mary Oliver's collection New and Selected Poems. I couldn't find a copyright free site to link to, but a quick search and you'll find the poem in its entirety.)

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.

fireflies {a poem}

liz lamoreux

Watching My One-Year-Old Daughter

Her upturned face takes in each flake of snow.
Giggling, she looks at me as though saying,
“Can you believe this is falling from the sky?” 

One-year-old joy is like a jar of lightning bugs.


When will it begin to fade?

At three when she loses her favorite stuffed baby panda.
At ten when her best friend refuses to talk to her.
At thirteen when words I don’t ever want to say hang in the air.
At seventeen when she watches the one she loves with someone else.
At twenty-two when unexpected grief becomes her companion. 

In a moment I cannot prevent,
her heart will crack;
the light will flicker.
And today, I ask all that I reach to believe in
to be there to catch her. 


Her feet crunch the white with each step.
She stumbles but reaches toward the sky,
catching wonder in her palm. 

Her one-year-old wisdom teaches me 
to resuscitate each firefly buried within.


This week is all about poetry here on my blog. I wrote this poem a few years ago and haven't yet shared it here. Finding it again has me building a bridge between what I felt in that moment to what pushes and pulls on me in this one. I'm reaching out my hand to her and saying, "Thank you for reminding me of what's true."

You can read more of my poetry in Five Days in April.

It's a collection of poetry for the times when your own words fail you. For the moments that leave you wondering if you're alone, in the missing and the hoping, in the falling apart and putting the pieces back together. It will invite you back home to yourself.

Available here in my shop.

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.

beautiful questions

liz lamoreux


Here, a woman stands at a seat between Rilke and Heaney, across from Whyte, and wonders if she can sit down.

These are the words I wrote while listening to poet David Whyte speak earlier this month.

I'm a big fan of David Whyte's work in the world and his poetry. If you've been at one of my retreats, I've probably read you a few of his poems. Kelly Barton has a great story about me reading his poetry to her while a storm pounded down outside the house we were staying in in Manzanita, Oregon. His words opened her up to poetry in a new way; little did she know I was reading to keep myself centered because the storm was pretty much freaking me out as we were on the ocean with floor to ceiling windows as the sea and sky raged all around us.

Over the last nine years, David Whyte's words have become talismans I carry with me to remind me that I'm not alone.

But while listening to him speak for two days, my friend Bridget and I noticed one glaring omission: the poetry of women.

Whyte is a storyteller and philosopher who uses his own poetry and the poetry of others to share what he believes about this awesome, sometimes heartaching, gorgeous life we all live. And I love this approach. Sharing a story and the poem born from that story. The audience hopefully spends some time reflecting on their own lives and how it all connects. Alternatively he shares a poem by someone else who connects to his story or a poem by another that prompted a response of his own poem. There is a rhythm to his storytelling that often feels like home to me.

I use a somewhat similar approach when I teach at retreats. I love to share a story that will hopefully invite the women I'm teaching to open their hearts up just a bit more and then I invite them to share their own stories and put pen to the page. I also love using the poetry of others as an entrypoint to our own writing; I want my students to be able to nod along as I read poetry and see themselves inside the stories, even if they've never had the experience the poet is sharing. 

While listening to Whyte this time, I struggled to find a way to see myself in the stories and poems he shared. Women made appearances in the typical forms of daughter, mother, lover, but they weren't seen as hero, deep thinker, person who might change the world, or even person struggling with life's big "stuff."

And this has me pausing over here. I'm actually not in deep judgement of Whyte's work. The reality is that I'm a big fan and at the two other events I attended with him over the years, I didn't have this reaction. Most observations are more about how his omission brought up some "beautiful questions" as he calls them that have me asking: What tables do I want to join? What stories do I need to tell? What poems are waiting to be born inside me? What female poets should the world know more about?

As I dive deep into gathering stories and beautiful questions as I work on a new offering I want to share with you next year, I'm heading to my bookshelves and starting with Sharon Olds, Madeleine L'Engle, and Diane Ackerman. They feel like old friends who have a seat just waiting for me.

Today, think about the tables you want to sit at and the stories you want to help tell in the world.

And tomorrow come back as I've decided to make this a week all about poetry on my blog, and I'll be sharing some of my favorite female poets and few other fun things this week!


As I think about the need for female voices at tables around the world, it feels pretty awesome to share that my ecourse Poem It Out is now available as an ongoing offering. This means you can sign up at anytime and you'll have access to the full course so you can dive into the world of poetry. This course includes four weeks of poetry and creativity prompts taught with both written material and more than two hours of video. To learn more about it and read testimonials from those who've already poemed it out, head over here.



liz lamoreux

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, 
and softly, 
and exclaiming of their dearness, 
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, 
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

- Mary Oliver, excerpt from "Peonies" found in New & Selected Poems