April is National Poetry Month, and while the month is nearly over at this point, there is never a wrong time to celebrate and share poetry. Whether you're a longtime fan or just starting to explore the genre, poetry will leave you inspired and create storytelling moments with family and patients alike. From powerful wartime lyrics to introspective reflections on life, poetrys can touch the heart, create new connections and allow people to share their insight.
In celebration of all things poetic, I will cover how to ask about a storyteller's favorite poem, their favorite poet, and how you can use the Poetry Foundation website as a resource in your activity planning.
Discovering Poetry as a Kid & Keeping the Poems Coming
The first thing I ever published was poetry. I was in 4th grade, it was a silly limerick, and I thought it was the coolest thing to see my name (and poem) on the page. It's part of how I got the bug to be an author and writer. That passion has stuck around and I’m still writing and publishing today (obviously). Any chance I get to share all things poetry and to help others get inspired, I take.
Over the years I’ve continued to explore poetry and attempt to engage my children in one of my favorite styles of writing. Talking to them about how song lyrics are poetry has helped immensely to help them connect with poetry and see where it is relevant in their lives today.
Friends host and participate in poetry slams and spoken word poetry keeping the art form alive and well. An activity that might not have come up in your planning is hosting a poetry night or having local poets come and share their poetry with your patients/residents. This offers a great way to have new people come into your space and engage with your facility.
What is your favorite Poem?
Now, not everyone is going to be excited about poetry. Some people may absolutely hate poetry. It doesn’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea to get a storytelling conversation started around poetry. With that in mind, how do we approach this conversation? Like always with five-minute storytelling, we start with simple questions that are yes or no.
- do you have a favorite poem?
- what is your favorite poem?
And then follow up with…
- what is your favorite poem?
- why is that their favorite poem?
- who introduced them to that poem?
- when they were introduced to it
- why it matters to them
- what do they want people to remember about this poem?
- how it impacts them
- how it made them feel
These are all questions that will give you some insight into how they think, about how their brain works, and what makes them light up.
I hope that you take some time to also share your favorite poem with the person you're chatting with. It's really important that we share our own stories. In addition to listening to others, I encourage you to share your story too. When you do this, your storytellers have an opportunity to hear your experience and learn more about you which builds rapport for the next conversation you have.
Who is your favorite Poet?
Many people have favorite musicians, actors, or athletes. But what about your favorite poet? This can be a difficult question to answer because there are so many great poets to choose from. Whether you prefer ancient poets like Homer and Sappho or modern poets like Sylvia Plath and Langston Hughes, everyone has their own favorite poet who speaks to them in a special way.
What is it about this particular poet's work that resonates with you? Is it the way they capture the beauty of nature? Or the depth of their feelings expressed in their poems? Or maybe the way they make you think about life in a new way? Exploring your reasons for preferring one poet over all others can be an interesting exercise and lead to new conversations.
Asking Someone Who Their Favorite Poet is
This is a question you can ask a resident or someone you care for to find out who their favorite poet is. If they're not into poetry, and they're not really sure what to say, no problem. Follow up with something like, “If you don't have a favorite poet, who's your favorite author, or favorite singer or [insert anything that has to do with the arts here]”.
The purpose of this line of questioning is to give people an opportunity to think about things outside of what maybe they normally think about. We don't normally talk about poetry anymore. Sometimes when it gets brought up in conversation, you might see people like shrink a little bit because they don't know how to talk about it.
This topic is like any other topic we've covered, it's about finding familiar ground. It's about helping your storyteller. Find something they are comfortable talking about and then guiding it into maybe topics they aren't used to talking about when we start in a comfort zone. Being able to expand into other areas is much easier for your storyteller.
Ask someone who their favorite poet is and if they're not sure, share yours. Remember that sharing your story helps your storyteller build rapport with you, and it creates a stronger connection and trust.
Resource – Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation offers an expansive, expansive database of many poems. Many of them have audio clips of the poem being read. A few are even read by the poet themselves, which is really cool. Did I mention this is all available for free? I want to encourage you to go check out the different poems they have on the website. Think of it as your personal database for published poems.
Clicking under the word “Poems” in the main menu shows a few categories to choose from. You have categories like poems for children, poems for teens, and a poem of the day to name a few. Another option is to search by a specific poem or poet.
If you are looking at residents or patients that can't leave their rooms or aren't able to engage with each other, this is something that they can consume easily. Everyone has access if they have access to the Internet, and it is a free resource that can be utilized when planning and activities fall apart.
What about you and National Poetry Month
Do you like poetry? Or is it like nah I could do without that? I would love to hear who your favorite poet is or what your favorite poem is. I hope you can find some time in the next month to share a poetry-inspired conversation with your storytellers!