I like poetry, really I do. I just sometimes have a hard time sitting down and reading it. After a few lines, my mind wanders. After a few poems, everything wanders. But, really, I want to be a better person, a more refined person, a more poetic person. I want to read and appreciate and understand poetry, and infuse my own work with some of what makes poetry great.
So I got the idea to read a poem out loud at dinnertime each night. Poetry is meant to be read out loud anyway, isn't it? It sounds so much better that way. In Ireland, our director began each morning meeting reading us a poem by an Irish writer, and it was so pleasant and calming and centering, that I decided to bring a bit of that home to our family.
I've had The Poet's Guide to the Birds for about three or four years now, and up until a couple of weeks ago, I had read three or four poems out of it. It is now our dinner poem book. After our thank-you at the beginning of the meal ("Let's thank the farmer, the gardener, the cook, Mother Earth and Father Sun), and the oh-so-brief moment of silence that follows, I read a poem. After the first couple of days, when M complained, "That didn't rhyme,"the boys have really gotten into it, competing over who gets to choose which bird to read that night (all of the poems are indexed by bird).
It's been really nice to read and listen to the poems, and it slows me down a bit (I tend to gobble my food--which I've done ever since M was a baby and I had about five seconds in which to eat a meal--and then sit drumming my fingers for the next hour-plus it takes those boys to eat the most basic of meals). I hope we'll keep it going for some time, even after we read through all the birds.