Got Poetry? | Sojourners

Got Poetry?

Did you know that a daily reading of Dylan Thomas' poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" can lower your blood pressure? Or that Pablo Neruda's poem "The Great Tablecloth" can help you lose weight?

Poetry is not just for aesthetes any more. Poetry "slams" are filling up American pubs and clubs. Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, has launched the Favorite Poems Project (, in which thousands of Americans are recorded saying their favorite poems. Pinsky also completed 50 five-minute video documentaries capturing regular Americans reading and talking about poems. PBS' News Hour with Jim Lehrer will air them throughout the summer.

So let's see if we can cure what ails you with a little verse.

Need some personal space? Try reading Story Hunger by Jerah Chadwick. For 17 years Chadwick has been a resident of the Aleutian island of Unalaska, where he first moved to raise goats and write, living in an abandoned World War II military compound eight miles from the nearest town. Each poem resounds with the silence of the north. From "Winter Country": "We resist each other with words, or wordlessly/avert our eyes when tenderness/is too much to bear the wanting/heart to be only muscle. As if/this were a question of strength...." Or from "Absence Wild": "Sounding the stillness,/my words, some sense of a trail/in the/storm's stalled light./The vastness in me/returned by this place."

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2000
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