Words Matter

With all due respect to Easter, Passover, Earth Day, and showers, April means National Poetry Month to me. I know I am a literary geek, but as a poet myself, I am inspired by this month dedicated to poets and their craft. National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry. 

For me, poetry has always been the vehicle which allows me to observe and comment on my world. I cannot remember a time when I did not read and write poems, and I can still recite poems memorized in my childhood. I especially loved reading and writing Haiku as a young girl and later expanded my writing using rhyming techniques. In my early 20s I began to explore free verse or open form poetry, which does not follow a specific pattern, and that is the style I currently use. 

My first published poem appeared in my local hometown newspaper when I was in the 6th Grade. I won a town-wide poetry contest and that was all I needed to throw myself into writing. I have had several poems published in Poetic Voices of America anthologies over the years and they sit on my bookshelf as a reminder to Write On. I wrote a poem to each of my children when they were born – that is another story – but, I have a journal for each of them which I hope one day they will treasure. 

As poet Lucille Clifton noted: Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language. Rob Evans, noted clinical and organizational psychologist and the Executive Director of The Human Relations Service, spoke to School Heads in a webinar last week. He advised us to turn to poetry for nourishment during our current reality. I couldn’t agree more. Poetry is a lifeforce, and my go-to, because I believe with my whole heart that words matter a great deal. 

In this time of great uncertainty and anxiety, now, more than ever, our words must be hopeful, healing and drenched in love. We cannot give real hugs to our extended family and friends, but we can give the warm embrace of our words. As a school leader, communications and conversations are all I have to connect with many families. I hope that my love for our school, their children, and our entire learning community is evident in every word I choose to send.

As I write now from my home office (aka kitchen counter) which faces the Chester River, I am mindful of the important work that the Kent School faculty, and all of those who support teaching and learning, are doing to stay connected to our students and their families at this time. Beyond content, it is the connection that is most important. A connection that is built by empathetic and caring words.

Follow me on Twitter @nancymugele for a taste of poetry each day during the month of April.

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