As I've said repeatedly, poetry is really best when read aloud. And it can be even better when recited from memory.
Today, I set out to write a post about Louis MacNeice, but that will wait for another day, because while I was checking a little something out, I found a site where you can hear lots of poems. Not read or recited by important orators, or by poets, but by regular people. Everday, regular people. Fifth grade girls, very old men, folks of all races and economic backgrounds.
You will be amazed by their choices, and the reasons for them.
Retired 81-year old anthropologist recites Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, after talking about his early life in an orphanage, and what that poem meant to him as a 7th-grader, and how it helped him through the horrors of war.
Fifth-grade Katherine Meckling recites Theodore Roethke's "The Sloth."
Twenty-something John Ulrich from South Boston smokes his cigarettes, and talks of suicides and herion overdoses, before reciting Gwendolyn Brooks's poem, "We Real Cool."
U.S. Marine Stephen Conteagüero recites W.B. Yeats's "Politics," and talks of his life with his wife, Lourdes.
Baptist minister, Rev. Michael Haynes, the child of Afro-Caribbean immigrants and a child of the depression, speaking of prejudice and history and more, sits in the cemetery, near the graves of his ancestors, and reads (and recites in part) "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
There are more, of course, maybe a total of a dozen or so stories and poems. I hope that today, you'll give one of them a look and a listen. Go to The Favorite Poem Project, former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky's project, and feel the power of poetry.