Perfect Timing for National Poetry Month Because Poetry Helps Us Process Emotions
By Riley, ACE Poetry Contest Mascot, assisted by Martha Sessums, ACE President, who is about to give up on keeping dog paw prints off her keyboard*
Hi, it’s Riley. I’m back. That catbombing can be fun. I was actually taking some of the Poetry Cats’ advice and hung out in a cardboard box for a while. It felt like I was in charge of my own personal space, powerful Dog Ruler and all. But then I missed Lucy and John and realized that being stressed, sad or fearful in these shelter-in-place times is normal, so hanging out with family is important.
You know what’s weird? Sometimes I don’t want to be cheered up. I just want a support hug that says it’s okay not to feel okay. Because someone telling me all the time it’s going to be fine doesn’t seem honest. I miss seeing my dog friends and neighbors, getting in the car and going to the beach or park and not worry about getting too close. I also see John work hard to ensure that distance education for Alpha Public School’s students and teachers is working. (Arf, arf! Lots of thanks to this frontline educator team and all the ACE Learning Center schools who are doing a great job with distance learning.)
So, when I’m sad, poetry’s a great distraction. In fact, National Poetry Month came at a great time. Reading poetry is not only entertaining, it can help process emotions. Emotions like being sad, or frustrated, or bored and unmotivated, even fearful of the future. Or angry and helpless that all this is happening to me, my friends and family.
One poem that Lucy and I share is Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Here’s my favorite part:
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
That’s what Lucy and I do. I rise when Lucy comes in the room to say hello. Lucy gives me pets in return. I respect her as a smart girl, and she respects me as a fuzzy, poetry-loving dog. This poem says we’re strong and we’ll will rise above all the bad stuff out there.
Another Poetry Cat advice for distance learning was to “be there.” That kinda means showing up. We each have our dreams and it’s up to each of us to hang on to them.
Arf, arf, the hanging on part is hard. So much gets in the way. It’s easy to say hang on when so much has changed because of this lousy virus. You students are faced with a lot. With job closures, money is scarce for buying dinner (much less dog treats.) It’s hard to speak up in an on-line class and it’s frustrating with no one to talk to about the homework assignment. And where’s help for passing tests and figuring out how to get into college? You students are faced with a lot and I suspect lots of dreams seem impossible now. (Remember – the teachers and counselors at your schools are there to help.)
But even dogs have dreams, and here’s a poem I share with Lucy when I dream of going out to the park to run and play with her – and I can’t right now. It helps both of us process our emotions.
By Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Reminder: tomorrow, Thursday April 30, is Poem in Your Pocket Day. I’ll be sharing poems in my pocket (well, Lucy’s pocket) so that will be fun. And then look out for the poems of the ACE Poetry Contest winners.
Lots of treats are coming, but today, treat yourself to a poem.