For me, poetry stands out as a critical component of self-care. The intellectual engagement and attention that poetry demands means that when I’m reading it, my mind wanders away from work, chores, and anxiety, making poetry the perfect antidote to millennial burnout.
But as much as we might want to curl up and pretend our Google calendar doesn’t exist, we are busier than ever before. So what’s the best way to make poetry a part of your weekly routine? Carve out time for it. Whether you have minutes or hours, these suggestions will help take your schedule from hectic to happy.
If you have 5 minutes . . . check out the Poem-a-Day newsletter
If you’re anything like me, your email inbox is swamped with coupons, spam, and scary headlines. Subscribing to the Poem-a-Day newsletter could help change that. Started by the Academy of American Poets, this project features a new poem and commentary each weekday, as well as classic poems on Saturdays and Sundays. Along with reading the poem, you can also have it read to you. In five minutes, poetry pairs wonderfully with your morning coffee.
If you have 10 minutes . . . play around with poetry
Sure, poetry can be serious, moving, and reflective, but it can also be incredibly fun. I work at a creative company, where both magnetic poetry and blackout poetry act as stress-defusing mini-projects. See what poems come to life on the office fridge—bonus if you’re actually able to incorporate stapler or fax machine—or grab a newspaper and a Sharpie to find new meanings in existing texts. This can also work as a writing warm-up.
If you have a favorite poem that either you or someone else has written, try infusing it with more creative, out-of-the-box word choice by playing the N+7 game online.
Created by French poet Jean Lescure and popularized by Haryette Mullen, author of Sleeping with the Dictionary, this tool takes the nouns within a text and replaces each with the seventh following noun in the dictionary. Yep, it’s kinda like Mad Libs.
Or . . . Mix poetry into your meditation
Every night when I listen to the Slowdown podcast, hosted by poet Tracy K. Smith, it helps me relax and seems to have almost the same effect as meditation or yoga. This got me thinking—could there be a connection between them?
Writers have studied and reflected on how meditation before writing can unlock inspiration. But it turns out that poetry can also be incorporated directly into meditation practices, with lists recommending the best meditative poems and Youtube videos that feature Walt Whitman, Rumi, and others as meditation entry points.
If you have an hour . . . go to a poetry reading or slam
You might remember this as a talking point from your high school English class: Poetry is meant to be read and shared aloud. Most cities, especially those with a nearby university, host a variety of both touring and local poets.
Since I began attending poetry readings almost every week, it’s enhanced my appreciation and understanding—plus, it never hurts to add to your autographed book collection. To find readings in your area, check out the websites and social media pages of your local public library, arts bars, and colleges.
Or . . . Start a writing workshop
In response to the isolating nature of creative work, many of our generation’s best poets have been speaking out about the need to cultivate community. Starting a weekly poetry workshop in your favorite bookstore, cafe, your living room, or wherever speaks to you can be an excellent way to forge writing connections, friendships, and stronger work. It can also help you confront intimidating questions, like if you’re ready to submit your poems for publication.
How will you enjoy poetry this week?