Poetry is necessary right now, not that there’s been a time when we didn’t need it. I suspect that you know this already, so I won’t belabor the point. But forget if you can, whatever painful approach your education may have foisted upon you. A poem is a machine made of words, sometimes it runs fast, sometimes slow. It can whisper like a well-tuned sedan or growl like a mud-encrusted heavy-duty truck. Of course, to hear its voice undisturbed you might need to read aloud in the bathroom or the basement of your house. A good place to read it is outside, providing the weather is tolerable.

As a poet, I eventually studied all that stuff that too many students had to deal with in high school, but I was lucky. As the only college-bound student in my small rural high school, my English teacher, may he rest in heaven, just sat me down with recorded poems and then left me alone with Chaucer or Shakespeare, never once asking me to dissect the art. That was a great gift, to hear the language before I had to analyze anything. So, I wish that you find poems that stick with you because they comfort you or challenge you or surprise you, poems that make language behave like music.

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