World Poetry Day: In Praise of Poetry

World Poetry  Day
Poetry just doesn’t get enough love nowadays. With a few exceptions, the form is generally relegated to the university classroom or else delivered in bite-sized, hipster-friendly chunks on Instagram. And if that’s how you get your poetry, well, at least it’s something.

But every once in a while, it’s nice to remember the rich history of this mode of expression, and to appreciate the power that a few carefully chosen words and images, configured in just the right way, can have on the human psyche. Poetry, more than any other form of literature, stimulates both rational and emotional centres of the brain. It engages both sight and sound. To borrow an internet phrase, it hits you right in the feels.

So today, we encourage you to immerse yourself in at least one poem—any poem you like. It could be a nursery rhyme that you recall fondly, a classic filled with poetic devices, or even a humorous haiku you found on the web. There is a poem out there for everyone!

Need a few suggestions to get started? Check out a few of the poems lurking for free on our website. You can read Jay Macpherson’s famous poem “The Boatman” in The Essential Jay Macpherson, or “The Search” from P. K. Page’s Griffin Prize shortlisted Coal and Roses, or delve into the mind of “Elephant Man” John Merrick in “In the Year of Our Lord, 1875” from Words for Elephant Man. (If you like them, be sure to check out more by purchasing the book in print or digital format.)

Here’s a particular favourite, from Shane Neilson’s Complete Physical

The Doctor Will See You Now

I parcel out parts of me, fifteen minutes apiece.
I want to ask: were you told you were loved,

are the bills past due and all you can do is fight
with Mike about what was spent on nothing?

Love again. Damn. It’s more important than
your sore throat, than your cough. Your wretch

of a day in malady: I rarely fix, at best palliate,
and much of what is left of me is talk.

You are small, tear-stained, and buffeted, with straight black
hair lately going grey. Let ’s do an advertisement together:

Narrator: Doctor Neilson holds hands, but not too much.
And when I cannot fix, a part of me flecks off.

I give the shard to you, so you can rub it at night for answers,
you can suspend them from the ceiling like a chandelier of rubies,

they make great doormats. But they refract no light, will not
warm your pocket, nor are they brilliantly encyclopaedic.

They are finite, and futility chips away at my clinical edifice.
I wish I could join you in the room full of those shards

like sequins, we could make a scarf of not caring,
of intransigence. I could put together a real doctor,

I’ll call him Dr Quarter-To, and you will see him
with your beautiful scarf.

Hope you have a lovely and poetry-filled World Poetry Day!
P. S. If you liked Shane Neilson’s poem from Complete Physical, don’t forget to check out his new book (hot off the press!), Dysphoria.


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.