To quote the famed American poet W. H. Auden, "A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language". The same can be true for those who enjoy reading poetry. Art is often a reflection of the mind of its creator, and one's poetry is representative of an attitude or perspective that's worth exploring . For senior bookworms looking to find a new writer to add to their collection or older adults just getting into reading poetry, here are four poets you might want to enjoy in your assisted living apartment this year.
Recommended poem: "The Weary Blues"
A poetic voice for the civil rights movement of the mid 1950s to late 60s, Langston Hughes was a Missouri citizen born with an ear for music and a talent for writing. With an innovative voice for jazz poetry and a creative mixture of music and poetic meter, Hughes quickly became an important figure for social justice thanks to his poetic approach to activism.
Much of his poetry expresses a simple desire for belonging and equality, and his work has an overarching theme of understanding social humanitarianism.
"The Weary Blues" follows the day of a black blues player and is a poetic expression of the pain caused by social and racial discrimination. For readers who are looking for socially-conscious poetry with powerful messages, Langston Hughes and other poets who contributed to the Harlem Renaissance might be a good choice. They're among those who pioneered poetry as a means to create lasting social movements.
Recommended poem: "Dedication"
For those interested in history, this next poem might be the one for you! Did you know that American poet Robert Frost wrote his poem "Dedication" to recite at the presidential inauguration in 1961? Although he wasn't known for his presence in politics, Frost was set to deliver this poem to the audience welcoming President John F. Kennedy to office.
However, Frost was blinded by the glare coming off the snow that blanketed the capitol that afternoon. The reflected light was so bright that it rendered Frost unable to deliver his poem. The poem itself is fairly short in length but captures patriotism for country and desire for liberty with an ambitious voice. It described the United States as a land of true opportunity for all.
Recommended poem: The Canterbury Tales
If you're not familiar with Geoffrey Chaucer, it's no wonder—he was born in 1343! Despite how long ago he wrote and published his epic Middle English poem, Chaucer is renowned as one of the most influential writers of the English language and is still read by many college students across the country. His writing has been compared to that of fellow English writer and playwright William Shakespeare. The two English poets differ in their approach to the theme of love, humor and tragedy in their creative works.
The Canterbury Tales is an epic poem about a group of travelers, including the author himself, who each tell their own tales that mock and characterize one another. Chaucer's approach to literature was considered crude and absurd and shouldn't be read by the faint of heart. However, if you're looking for a good read that doesn't take itself too seriously—and a bit of a reading challenge as you decipher some of the Middle English language—you may want to give this one a go.
Recommended poem "Still I Rise"
Maya Angelou is an accomplished and decorated poet and social writer. Like Hughes, Angelou grew up in Missouri. The city is known for its history in art and blues music, Angelou often takes inspiration from these things for her poetry. The late poet wrote about celebrating inherent difference and allowing individuality to flourish in spite of efforts at division. Despite hardships in her life, Angelo used poetry to continuously highlight the importance of art to facilitate change.
With a bluntness that captures the urgency for social equality, Angelou's "Still I Rise" is a poem about resilience during continuous hardship. Being a Christian, Angelou held a view that even through adversity, the greatest blessing of discrimination is self-perseverance and perspective.
You may be interested in owning a hard copy of these poems or learning more about the authors. Consider a trip to the on-site library at Autumn View Gardens in Creve Coeur, MO. Residents of the assisted living community can also ask for assistance from helpful staff when searching for poetry from the library's selection as well as via the computer lab, where you can read poetry online or order books via retailers such as Amazon.
You can also take advantage of transportation and outings to nearby shopping centers or libraries if you're looking for other access to books.