Poems to Make Your Heart Sing

February 11th, 2009

Poetry is much like painting with words. It stirs in me a sense of wonder and sparks my imagination. Sometimes I have trouble sitting still long enough to linger in it, but when I do, I'm almost always happy that I did.

dreaming of the 7 sisters

Today, my painting "Dreaming of the Seven Sisters" is featured in the sidebar of Breathing Poetry, a blog that features wonderful poems from a variety of poets.

What poems make your heart sing? We can all play with words and turn out poetry. It may not be perfect or beautiful, it may not rhyme or fit a particular style, but it will be your own unique expression. 

I recently discovered the work of Billy Collins. Delicious use of words. Check out his Introduction to Poetry or you can listen to him read some of his poems here. Rumi is another eternal favorite and then there's Pablo Neruda, Mary Oliver, and Margaret Atwood.


I've used poems as the source of inspiration for artwork, sometimes just a line of poetry will spark a painting idea (in the piece above the line became a main feature.) There are so many ways art and poetry can blend together.

Has poetry impacted your work? If you're a poet, do you ever use your poetry in other mediums? Is there a way you can incorporate poetry into your creative life this month? Or could you use a poem as the jumping off point for your next creation?

I'll close with a bit of Rumi to inspire you today:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

15 Responses

I love Billy Collins! I think my very favorite is “Metamorphosis” but there’s so many I love from Questions About Angels. I also love Hafiz (the Daniel Ladinsky translations) and this from Meister Eckhart (again, trans. Ladinsky):

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.

Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,

he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears

and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,

because love does that.

Love frees.

Today I am feeling like I just woke up ! Thank God ! Thanks for the Rumi reminder not to go back to sleep !

Happy Wednesday, Beautiful Leah !

Walt Whitman, Alice Walker, Bronwen Wallace…they make my heart sing!


Thank you, again, for linking to my blog, Leah. And, for agreeing to submit another fantastic painting:)

Speaking of poetry, you mentioned “one” of my favorites, Pablo Neruda. Here is an excerpt from (Cat’s Dream) that ties in your love of cats and dreams:

Sleep, sleep cat of the night,
with episcopal ceremony
and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams;
control the obscurity
of our slumbering prowess
with your relentless heart
and the great ruff of your tail.

What a wonderful place to feature your painting.

You have stirred old memories for me… I used to go out with a poet and I used to illustrate his poems… long, long ago…

Rumi always seems to move me in powerful ways!

Maybe it wouldn’t surprise you to find out I am a lapsed poet. I don’t know if I’ve written a poem in years, but my poems feed into my fiction, my prose and my art. No doubt.

Whether or not my destiny is to Be A Poet (I had planned to get a MFA in poetry upon graduation from college) I shall be forever and ever grateful for how poetry has enriched my life.

Hi Leah!

Some poetry impacts my artwork…I haven’t actually created anything from a poem just yet, but poems have a way of helping me think in a creative direction.

BTW: I love this Seven Sisters piece…absolutely amazing! I also received your lovely calendar a week or so ago…love it!

I haven’t been able to spend much time online these past couple weeks, and it’s been a while since I’ve been over here. I opened your blog today, saw the first image, and thought, “Wow!” Leah, I so admire your consistent ability to create beautiful images. I love everything about this one – the line quality, the collage elements… great stuff. And all this on top of fostering a wonderful online creative community. Well done.

I tend to shy away from poetry, the way many people shy away from modern art. I find most poetry inaccessible to me, and that makes me feel stupid, like I’m missing out on something everyone else gets because of some sort of deficiency I have. But then every once in a while a line will come along that makes my heart sing, and I’ll turn it around in my head over and over again, enjoying it from every angle. Perhaps I just have high standards. :)

Jorie Graham, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lucille Clifton, Grace Cavalieri, Carol Muske (of course Mary Oliver and Margaret Atwood!)


Once her prayers beat the sky
with the fear of a caged bird
cold beads slipping through fingers
like memories. she has forgotten
why the woman in blue
is forever stepping on the snake.

Instead she thinks of the red serpents
seen unexpectedly the year she thought
of drowning, how water enfolds and covers

but the serpents sang to her
of the secrets of dry grass
the diligence of trees
and the warmth of small feathered things
with racing hearts
so she learned to love the land.

she places sweet milk
in the corners of her yellow kitchen
just in case
the serpents come ashore
makes nests of shredded paper
for broken birds with wounded wings
and skitters glass beads
one by one
across the worn and shiny floor
while she holds her prayers
in the palm of her hand.

(that’s mine, from my chapbook, “Shift” available thru Amazon.com)

i LOVE this house image, and the words as well.

Oooh! I absolutely ADORE your Seven Sisters painting. It is so beautiful and incredible!

As to poets, I love T.S. Eliot – esp. the Four Quartets. I hated him at first, but after I spent a semester on him in school, and finally got the hang of what he was talking about (even if only in a vague way), I really liked him. I esp. like what he does with time and space in the Four Quartets.

I used to write poetry a lot, almost all of the time, but I think college squelched that out of me. Now I very rarely write it. But maybe I should give it a try, again.

Mmm … that Rumi poem has always been a fave.

You and your readers will probably appreciate (my beloved) Dodge Poetry Festival: http://www.dodgepoetry.org/

Sadly, due to the state of the economy, the every-other-year festival is taking a break in ‘10, but they’re also re-grouping to re-imagine, so it’s not going away. And in the meantime, poetry-lovers can check in on their site to see videos of some poetry ’stars’ reading their works at past festivals … (just delish).

(ps – love the new look leah!) :)

[...] the visuals, anyway, so maybe I will try that just for grins on another day.  One of the recent Creative Every Day challenges was to write a poem. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, so maybe [...]

I make handmade greeting cards for a living and I often use my poems in anniversary cards, valentines, and wedding cards.

Kards by Kaylee

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