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A Cornucopia of Thanks for Poetry (An Essay)

November 11, 2022

November—A Month of Gratitude

Week 2.  A cornucopia of Thanks for Poetry

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                During all seasons of my life, during the happy times and challenging times of my life—I have gratefully turned to the reading and writing of poetry.  From the cloth picture-book of nursery rhymes that my mother read to my older sister and me, from the creatively descriptive language which my dad frequently used to my presenting one of my poems to my second-grade class at Indiana’s Jacksonville Grade School through these days of my presenting my poetry at the monthly Readers’ Workshop of Behind Our Eyes—my life has been pleasantly polka-dotted with poetry.  Thus, in this month of gratitude, I am posting on my “thankful” list a cornucopia of thanks for poetry.

                I am grateful to have been in grade school when teachers assigned us a poem to memorize and later recite.  In high school, I so enjoyed reading aloud repeatedly the melodious  poem “The Raven,” by Edgar A. Poe, that I developed laryngitis for the first time.  In 1989, I toured the Edgar A. Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. 

                One of my most memorable recollections of literature courses which I took while seeking my first master’s degree was one of my professors of English sharing with a class of about forty students that what helped him during his service in Europe during World War II was the book of poetry which he kept in his pocket for reading whenever possible.  The professor was a stout man and at least 6’4”.  Throughout the years, his story has returned to my thoughts; and I am always touched.  In a somewhat similar poetic vein, I think of one of my favorite quotations which I came across many years later.  In a May 14, 1781 letter to his then thirteen-year-old son John Quincy Adams, the forty-five-year-old John Adams (before he was president) wrote:  “You are never alone with a poet in your pocket.”  I firmly agree because great poems may be read over and over with continuing or even growing interest, appreciation, and/or joy.

                Teaching a poetry unit was one of my most favorite parts of my career in education.  Each semester, I was extremely grateful to hear each of my students present  an original poem at “Poetry at the Podium.”  I was surprised how many students told me they had never before written a poem or had not written one since elementary school.  I hope that many of my former students are still writing, reading, and being thankful for poetry.

Besides reading poetry in textbooks, I do relish reading poetry collections of both classic poets and contemporary poets.  Having chapbooks of poetry written by writer friends of mine on a special bookshelf is a treat that always brings a warm smile to my face.  Whatever the medium—print, braille, or various audio versions—I am content to read poetry.  Whenever a poet friend publishes a collection of poetry, I am nearly as excited as the author and try to be a cheerleader for my fellow poets.

                For me, highlights of each month are two events of the writers’ group Behind Our Eyes.  First, since July of 2016, I have been grateful to participate in  a small-group critique session:  although we can contribute either poetry or prose, we most often share poetry.  Secondly, in 2019, I thankfully became a regular participant and periodic moderator of the Readers’ Workshop that allows me an opportunity not only to present aloud my poetry, but to hear the poetry and prose of fellow Behind Our Eyes (BOE) members.  For additional information about this group for writers’ with disabilities, please visit:

                Today, I was again enjoying the reading of MAGNETS AND LADDERS, the bi-annual online literary publication of Behind Our Eyes.  You also can enjoy the poetry and prose of this free internet magazine, established in 2010, at:

If you are a regular reader of this WORDWALK blog, you know how much I like writing poetry about my guide dogs, hometown of Blanford, family, Italian ancestors, poetry, nature, holidays, and more.  Of course, I cannot forget being thankful for April, National Poetry Month—one of my favorite times of the year.

With best wishes and heartfelt gratitude to our veterans and their families on November 11 and always,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

November 10, 2022, Thursday


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  1. joanmyles permalink

    Wonderful, dear Alice! Of course, poetry is something vital to our lives, and hearing your various connections to poetry is a treat! Thanks for your own poetic spirit, and for your cheerleading!

  2. Susan McKendry permalink

    Alice, I was not surprised to read this post about your connections with poetry. I often have thought that between you and Louise Penny I have been exposed to more poetry than at any other time of my life. So I am thankful for that.

    I’m also very thankful for the house we have lived in for 32 years. Part of it was built in the 1860s. Living here interested us in local history, and we were able to assist a descendant of a family who originally settled in the area with his book that covered 14 generations. Home improvements have been challenging in a house where nothing is square or level, but it suits us well, and we don’t take it for granted.

    • Good Monday afternoon, Sue–Many thanks for your interesting
      contribution about your house, part of which was built in the 1860s. 
      Amazing!  I greatly appreciate your interest in local history and all
      that you have done to discover and preserve local history.

      Hoping you are enjoying the JEOPARDY Tournament of Champions and today’s
      nicer weather–Alice and Willow

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