Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is There a Poem that has Moved You?

Is there a poem that has moved you, touched you, or changed your life? On the next Your Call, we'll celebrate National Poetry Month by asking you to share your favorite poem. Where did you first hear it and why did it stick with you? Join us live at 11 or send us an email at How does poetry make you feel? Does it quiet your mind? Does it inspire you to action? What does poetry do for you that prose can't? It's Your Call, with Sandip Roy and you.

Devorah Major--former San Francisco poet laureate, adjunct professor at California College of the Arts, and Poet in Residence at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Pireeni Sundaralingam--poet and co-editor of Indivisible: A Contemporary Anthology of South Asian American Poetry

Click to Listen: Is There a Poem that has Moved You?


Sandip said...

Sandip's poetry pick - Agha Shahid Ali's beautiful A Nostalgist's Map of America. I didn't know Emily Dickinson, neither had I been to Philadelphia but the poem haunted me.

Matt Martin said...

Carl Sandburg’s “A Father To His Son” came to me as a gift from a family friend who was like a grandfather to me. I like its contradictory prescription for how to be in the world, and try to remind myself “to have no shame over having been a fool/yet learning something out of every folly”

Here it is, complete with inappropriate web ads:

Thomas said...

Charles Baudelaire is one of the most influent french poets. Here's one of his most famous poems :

To a Woman Passing By
The deafening road around me roared.
Tall, slim, in deep mourning, making majestic grief,
A woman passed, lifting and swinging
With a pompous gesture the ornamental hem of her garment,
Swift and noble, with statuesque limb.
As for me, I drank, twitching like an old roué,
From her eye, livid sky where the hurricane is born,
The softness that fascinates and the pleasure that kills,
A gleam... then night! O fleeting beauty,
Your glance has given me sudden rebirth,
Shall I see you again only in eternity?
Somewhere else, very far from here! Too late! Perhaps never!
For I do not know where you flee, nor you where I am going,
O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!

Charles Baudelaire
translation — Geoffrey Wagner, Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire (NY: Grove Press, 1974)

Allison said...

Two from Ali:

"Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye (

"Braiding" by Li-Young Li (

These poets really kicked things off for me. And they are still the ones I go back to.

Allison said...

a note from a friend about sharing poetry:

i don't have a favorite poem or a favorite poet -- my real bond with poetry is sharing poems -- the right one for the right moment in time, for the right person, copied out, sent along. the idea that feelings, which are so nuanced and ephemeral, have enough rhyme/reason/pattern to be expressed by one person and recognized by another. it can't even be counted-- how many times that i have gone to visit a friend or family member from near or far and seen a poem in my handwriting tacked up by their desk, their bed, on the refrigerator, in the bathroom, tucked inside their wallet...

Rose Aguilar said...

These are about family and the importance of remembering where you came from:

Remember by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.

Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

Rose Aguilar said...

And anything by the amazing American Indian poet/musician/activist John Trudell.

Look At Us by John Trudell

Allison said...

This from a listener:

My favorite poem is "Ithaka," by Constatine Cavafy. I believe it was read for Jacqueline Kennedy's funeral. I have lost many friends to Aids, and this poem about life's journey has touched me. I utilized it in several memorials. Also, my friends and I share a weekly poem each Monday to get us started on the week.

Allison said...

Another poem from a listener:

This is not in standard poetic form, but one of my favorites. Takes me out of my busy, everyday-mind, and into a more creative framework


"Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was made a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and equinox! This is what is the matter with us, we are bleeding at the roots, because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars, and love is a grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from its stem on the tree of Life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized vase on the table."

DH Lawrence

Allison said...

From another listener:

When called by a panther,
don't anther.
- Ogden Nash

And my all time fave:


Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
-Dorothy Parker


Tony said...

Two favorite haiku from "The Unswept Path: Contemporary American Haiku":

just a minnow
the granite mountain wobbles
on the lake
—Christopher Herold

now that fallen leaves
have buried the path
the trail is clear
—John Brandi

And two by Richard Wright:

I would like a bell
Tolling in this soft twilight
Over willow trees.

The river ripples
From the caressing shadows
Of a willow tree.