Share Your Poems Of Hurting And Healing

Apr 20, 2020
Originally published on April 24, 2020 8:11 am

In this time of uncertainty and crisis, poetry can bring positivity, insight and comfort. Morning Edition wants to hear from those whose lives have been affected by COVID-19 — in the form of a poem.

We want to hear your poems on mourning, on resilience, on your hopes and dreams in the midst of the global pandemic. Here is an example posted to our poetry Facebook group by Nancy Cross Dunham:

what I'm learning about grief ...
is that it need not be
a heavy gray shawl
to wrap myself in,
clutching my arms tightly
across my chest

nor ...
need it be
a granite rock
that I should try
to push away

neither is it ...
... at least, no longer ...
a vast dark ocean
ready to pick me up
and slap me down
without warning

what I'm learning about grief ...
is that it is not me,
but that it offers
to become a friend

a friend ...
who will lightly lay a hand
on my shoulder
when tears come in the dark

a friend ...
who will laugh
out loud with me
at remembered silly moments

a friend ...
who can still hear
the music of our life

what I'm learning about grief ...
is that this friend
doesn't intend
to leave me

but promises
to hold my hand
to carry my memories

a friend ...
who will bear witness to my love
as I venture
toward the next day
and the following night

For your poems, we ask that you start just as Dunham began hers, with the line "what I'm learning about grief." NPR's resident poet Kwame Alexander will then create a community-style poem using lines from submissions. Alexander and Morning Edition host Rachel Martin will read it on air, and NPR will publish it online, where contributors will be credited.

This callout closed on Apr. 23 at 11:59 p.m.


Here are the terms of the callout:

By providing your Submission to us, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the following terms in relation to the content and information (your "Submission") you are providing to National Public Radio ("NPR," "us," or "our"):

You are submitting content pursuant to a call out by Morning Edition related to a segment with Kwame Alexander wherein he creates unique poetry based on listener submissions. You understand that you are submitting content for the purpose of having Kwame use that content to create a new poem or poems ("Poem") with the material you submit. You must be over the age of 18 to submit material.

You will retain copyright in your Submission, but agree that NPR and/or Kwame Alexander may edit, modify, use, excerpt, publish, adapt or otherwise make derivative works from your Submission and use your Submission or derivative works in whole or in part in any media or format and/or use the Submission or Poem for journalistic and/or promotional purposes generally, and may allow others to do so. You understand that the Poem created by Kwame Alexander will be a new creative work and may be distributed through NPR's programs (or other media), and the Poem and programs can be separately subject to copyright protection. Your Submission does not plagiarize or otherwise infringe any third party copyright, moral rights, or any other intellectual property rights or similar rights. You have not copied any part of your Submission from another source. If your Submission is selected for inclusion in the Poem, you will be acknowledged in a list of contributors on NPR's website or otherwise receive appropriate credit, but failure to do so shall not be deemed a breach of your rights.

Your submission will be governed by our general Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. As the Privacy Policy says, we want you to be aware that there may be circumstances in which the exemptions provided under law for journalistic activities or freedom of expression may override privacy rights you might otherwise have.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Draw a crazy picture. Write a nutty poem. Sing a mumble-gumble (ph) song. Whistle through your comb. Do a loony-goony dance 'cross the kitchen floor. Put something silly in the world that ain't been there before. Joining me now, MORNING EDITION poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander. Hey, Kwame.

KWAME ALEXANDER: Hey, I see you kicking it off with a little Shel Silverstein during National Poetry Month, Rachel.

MARTIN: Mmm hmm. Maybe I am - just doing my best to stay positive through poetry.

ALEXANDER: I hear you. I have been leaning into poetry for healing, to stay calm in the storm.

MARTIN: Poetry can be a sanctuary.

ALEXANDER: There's a poem on NPR's poetry Facebook page called "What I'm Learning About Grief." It's written by a health care policy expert, Nancy Cross Dunham. And it reminds us that none of us are alone in our grief.

MARTIN: Yeah. It's a beautiful poem. Shall we read an excerpt together?

ALEXANDER: Absolutely. Let's do it.

MARTIN: (Reading) What I'm learning about grief is that it need not be a heavy gray shawl to wrap myself in, clutching my arms tightly across my chest.

ALEXANDER: (Reading) Nor need it be a granite rock that I should try to push away.

MARTIN: (Reading) What I'm learning about grief is that it is not me, but that it offers to become a friend...

ALEXANDER: (Reading) A friend who will lightly lay a hand on my shoulder when tears come in the dark...

MARTIN: (Reading) A friend who will laugh out loud with me at remembered silly moments.

ALEXANDER: (Reading) What I'm learning about grief is that this friend doesn't intend to leave me...

MARTIN: (Reading) But promises to hold my hand, to carry my memories...

ALEXANDER: (Reading) A friend who will bear witness to my love as I venture toward the next day and the following night.

MARTIN: I love that poem. There's so much healing in there, a reminder that it is OK. Grief comes and it goes, and it stays. And that's OK - that we can face the next day with hope and love.

ALEXANDER: In this time of uncertainty and crisis, poetry provides insight and comfort while also helping us develop a positive outlook. So we'd like to invite those of you who suffered a loss at the hands of the coronavirus to find comfort in putting pen to paper.

MARTIN: The disease has affected all of us in some way. We want to hear your poems about mourning, about resilience, about your hopes and your dreams in the middle of all of this. And, Kwame, you've come up with a way to write this poem, right?

ALEXANDER: Indeed. Listeners, for your poems, we ask that you start your poem just as Nancy Cross Dunham began hers, with the line, what I'm learning about grief.

MARTIN: Once you create your magic, leave it for us at npr.org/poemtherapy. It's all one word. And then Kwame will take a line from some of the poems and do what he does, create a community crowdsourced poem.

ALEXANDER: I'm really looking forward to this, Rachel. I need this.

MARTIN: Yeah. I do, too. Kwame Alexander is a regular contributor to MORNING EDITION.

ALEXANDER: In the words of Ernest Hemingway, write clear and hard about what hurts. Thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: Take care, Kwame. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.