The following is a guest post by the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. This is the third in a series of monthly blog posts that Amanda will be writing during her laureateship this year.
Amanda Gorman, L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Celebration 2017. (Photo credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images North America).
This week something miraculous happened: I got a poem from my Secret Santa. Now, this might not seem that incredible, but I spend most of my holiday seasons writing poems for other people. For the first time, someone wrote one for me. What was sweet is that the author doesn’t come from a poetry background—she’s actually my roommate, and the friend who I always seek out when I need computer help ASAP. But on a cute, cream-colored card she’d scribbled a few rhymes, reminding me of how wonderful a gift poetry can be.
With the holiday season coming at us full throttle, for this poet diary entry I’m taking the time to reflect on how words can be thoughtful presents to give and also receive. For example, right before Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop at Fayerweather Street School in Massachusetts. I love working with young students, especially elementary-aged kids, because of how quickly they get excited at the prospect of using words creatively. The students made a yellow sign (yellow being my favorite color) that reads “Let the poems begin,” and it touched me so deeply that I hung it on my door.
I also had the honor of attending the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth awards, honoring women from around the country making an impact. Every honoree shared a few words about her work and inspiration—from Lulu Cerone, who founded LemonAID Warriors at 10 to integrate activism into teens’ social lives, to Shandra Woworuntu, a survivor of human trafficking who started Mentari, an empowerment program for survivors of human trafficking. Every word inspired and energized the crowd like electric gifts, and for this I’m thankful.
All this is to say, who knows what a few kind and true words can do this holiday season? Whether you’re a poet or not, writer or not, a few thoughtful words can actually go a long way. Here are some prompts to get you started if you want to try being creative with your holiday card:
- Everyone loves a good rhyme. Try your hand at a few simple ones; you can always look at the classic A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore for inspiration.
- Rhyming not working out? Try an acrostic poem, where every first letter spells out a word. I always try the recipient’s name, or a word of gratitude.
- When all else fails, try writing whatever comes from the heart.
The following is a guest post by Pat Padua, Digital Conversion Specialist in the Library of Congress’ Music Division, on the occasion of Emily Dickinson’s 187th birthday (December 10). “I play the old, odd tunes yet, which used to flit about your head after honest hours.” One of the most iconic of American poets, Emily […]
This coming Sunday, December 10, marks what would be Emily Dickinson’s 187th birthday. Around the country, Dickinson lovers will gather together to read all 1,789 of her known poems in a “marathon” tradition and tribute to the Belle of Amherst. The Library, in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, hosted one such marathon in 2014. […]
The following guest post, part of our “Teacher’s Corner” series, is by Rebecca Newland, a Fairfax County Public Schools Librarian and former Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress. In the school library world we frequently discuss how books can serve as mirrors and windows for our students. Books, poems, and other literary works […]
Somehow it’s almost December, which means that the Poetry and Literature Center’s fall event season is coming to a close. Before you shutter yourselves in for the winter, though, make sure to join us tomorrow night for The Life of a Poet, featuring Rae Armantrout in conversation with The Washington Post‘s Ron Charles, at the historic […]
The following post is part of our monthly series, “Literary Treasures,” which highlights audio and video recordings drawn from the Library’s extensive online collections, including the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. By showcasing the works and thoughts of some of the greatest poets and writers from the past 75 years, the series advances the […]
The following is a guest post by the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. This is the second in a series of monthly blog posts that Amanda will be writing during her laureateship this year. Last year my Harvard friends called me The Lorax. Some of them didn’t really know what ‘laureate’ meant (heck, I […]
On November 8, 1894, a poem by Robert Lee Frost, then a 20-year-old grammar school teacher in Salem, New Hampshire, appeared on the front page of the New York newspaper The Independent. The poem, titled “My Butterfly: An Elegy,” was the first poem Frost ever sold, and his first professionally published poem. Readers of Frost’s […]
The following is a guest post by Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program. This Friday, November 3, at 12:00 pm, the Library will host the International Writing Program Spotlight in the Whittall Pavilion. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Writing Program, residents Enza García Arreaza (Venezuela) and Santiago Giralt (Argentina) will participate in a discussion with Cynthia P. […]
The following is a guest post by Stephen Winick of the American Folklife Center. An earlier version was published on “Folklife Today,” the center’s blog. Halloween is here, and the Library of Congress has released a new web guide to Halloween resources at the Library. It features select materials on the folk customs, fine art, pop […]