- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: T. S. Poetry Press (March 20, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781943120147
- ISBN-13: 978-1943120147
- ASIN: 1943120145
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Joy of Poetry: How to Keep, Save & Make Your Life with Poems: (Masters in Fine Living Series) Paperback – March 20, 2016
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Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome's journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It's also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.
—David Lee Garrison, author of <em>Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro</em>
Megan Willome's The Joy of Poetry—part memoir, part poetry reflections, part anthology—takes readers on a journey to discovering poetry's purpose, which is, delightfully, nothing. “Why poetry?” Willome asks. "You might as well ask, why chocolate?” Poetry reflects nothing more and nothing less than the pure joy of living, loving, and being, in all of its confusion and wonder. Willome's book will gently guide you to read, write, and be a little more human through language's mystery and joy. —Tania Runyan, author of How to Read a Poem: Based on the Billy Collins Poem "Introduction to Poetry"
In 'The Joy of Poetry,' Megan Willome describes the bed she made up in her son’s room after he went away to college: a sheet set the color of daffodils, a comforter like cumulus clouds, and sky-blue pillows. Sometimes she sleeps in there, she writes, and when she does, “it’s all sun.” That’s also how the author views reading and writing poetry—as the sun that breaks through the gloom of her mother passing away from cancer, the “multiple gift” that can offer healing, purpose and inner strength...as well as a musical and emotional soundtrack to life and and its ultimate end. What Willome offers readers in this easily-consumed treasure, chock-full of digestible poems and quotes framed by the memoir of her mother’s diagnosis and treatment, is how to do likewise. As a creative writing teacher of middle and high school students, this has been my philosophy exactly, and I’m delighted to find someone who has put it into words. Willome's pages are invaluable, and I know 'The Joy of Poetry' will be required reading in my classes for a long time to come.
– Jen Karetnick, author of American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016)
About the Author
Megan Willome is the managing editor of and a regular contributor to the Wacoan, a city magazine in Texas. She also writes occasionally for the Fredericksburg Standard Radio Post and Tweetspeak Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Every Day Poems and Windhover. She has survived reading poetry daily for 15 years while still managing to discuss other topics, such as college football and whether or not it will ever rain. Visit Megan at meganwillome.com.
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Okay, so right off the bat, I need to tell you that I am the poetry buddy who accepted the dare to read a poem a day with Megan Willome. And the experience changed my life. Because, you see, the experience wasn't just about learning not to be so askeered of poetry. It was about finding the poetry in life, in loss, in friendship, and in beloved childhood stories. And Megan was the perfect companion for the journey.
And this book is about poetry, but it's also not about poetry. It's about finding beauty and holding on to it when life gets ugly, discovering the words that capture your grief. And its about the magical way that poetry can help you find your way back to a cherished memory the way a whiff of lilac or the smell of coffee percolating can. And Megan weaves magic with her words while telling her story of life and loss and how poetry helps her find joy in the midst of it.
"Poetry is my prescription for adversity," Megan wrote, and anyone with a pulse knows life challenges each of us with seasons (sometimes lengthy) of adversity. Never did I ever think I would one day read, let alone write a review of a book about poetry. Megan gently helped me see what my life had been missing, and I will forever be grateful.
If you're wondering, “Why poetry?” Here’s her answer: “You might as well ask why chocolate? Why drive along a country road on a sunny day with the windows down and the music up? Why green tea with fresh mint from the farmer’s market? Why dogs?” And there’s also this, as Willome says: "You never know when a poem will offer you the secret something you need to get through the day." Frankly, that’s a good enough reason for me.
I read The Joy of Poetrey slowly and savored every word...even the poems. I'll be keeping this one on my shelf of favorites, and I know I'll come back to it again.
I am not a particular fan of studying poems, to tell you the truth. Dissection is not my forte. But reading it is a favorite pastime -- I have a couple of entire shelves in my personal library dedicated to poetry collections, some of them quite worn and threadbare.
So when I discovered my friend Megan Willome was working on a book about poetry, I was delighted and waited eagerly for that tome to fall into my greedy little hands. She does not disappoint, this Megan. No, she does not. At all.
"The Joy of Poetry: how to keep, save, & make your life with poems," is exactly what the title says it is -- a joy. She sprinkles all kinds of poems throughout this small book, among them some of her own, written in a time of grief and loss as her mother was dying of cancer. I read that entire cycle of poems on her blog before I ever met her and felt as if I had discovered a sister heretofore unknown to me. My own mom was beginning the long downhill slide into dementia and I resonated with every word of her beautiful collection. Every word.
Be advised that I know nothing about poetic forms, styles, line breaks or other specialized vocabulary. I simply know what I like, what 'speaks' to me, what makes me think/cry/laugh/wonder/reflect. Because I know so little about the formal grammar of the genre, I have never attempted to create what I always understood to be 'poetry' with my own hand and mind. However, as I read through Megan's lovely reflections, as I marked lines and printed small asterisks and dogeared page corners, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I've been going about this whole poetry thing the wrong way.
Megan's book underlines the importance of integrating the poetic into everyday life, it encourages us to look for poetry in the mundane, in our favorite music, in the books we read, in our conversations, in our lived experience. And after I finished the book (which took me little time at all, even with all the ah-ha-ing and the underlining), I had a great big ah-ha moment of my own. Because of my own particular faith and professional journey, the poetry of my life -- and the poetry that has come via my own mind and hand -- looks like this: prayer. The prayers I love to read, the prayers I memorize, the prayers I write . . . are pretty much all poems. Who knew??
Although I know faith to be part of Megan's own story, it does not make much of an appearance in this particular book. For me, that's a small hole in the fabric of an otherwise gorgeous tapestry of love and delight. I loved reading about her 'poetry buddy' relationships with a couple of other friends of mine and appreciated the practical suggestions that serve as a kind of appendix to the end of this slim volume. Most of all, I loved Megan's own words. Here are a few of my favorites:
on spying a small purple flower in an alleyway: "Between the trash can and the gas meter stood spring."
"But taking poems in small doses, one a day, or even one a week, is like a soaker hose for the soul."
While pondering her mom's imminent death:
"After she's gone will I still orbit her earth?
Will her tides still move my every wave?"
"How much more good poetry might be generated if we didn't endlessly evaluate our efforts -- if we wrote, and wrote and wrote and got through the bad, the sentimental, the therapeutic and made way for the occasional good poem?"
"Why write poetry? Because poets have perfect pitch."
"Poetry has the power to transform the truth."
"Poetry is my prescription for adversity. It can touch hidden places in ways prose can't. When I am heartbroken and read a poem that seems to have been written from someone else's dark place, I can sit among the broken eggshells and know I'm not alone. I don't need to know how the eggshells got broken."
So here's the upshot for me: I loved reading this book. I loved learning a little bit more about her life, about how she thinks, about how she works. I loved the poems she selected and the topics she wrote about. Maybe most of all, I love that her thoughtful work has pushed me to think more poetically about about my life, about my relationship with my mom, about why poetry is so important to me. An added bonus is the impetus for new prayer writing/wrangling, which seems to be the way in which I can personally wrestle with the poet within. Maybe a small collection for each Sunday of the year? Yeah, that's a poetry joy for me.
Thank you, Megan! And thank you, T.S. Poetry Press.
Oh, and if you don't believe me, CT Women listed it as one of the 10 Books Worth Reading for Summer 2016.