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Have you ever written a poem? Perhaps sometime in school you had an assignment to write some poetry for an English or literature class. If so, you were probably taught about what makes up a poem, and maybe some techniques for writing poetry.

I don’t claim to know all about the history of poetry, nor all the techniques of effective poetry writing, but I do know that poetry writing is an ancient art, and has been used throughout history in many (maybe all) lands and cultures. Poetry is used as an expression of what is on the mind and in the heart of the writer.

The Bible contains poetry throughout the books, especially in the Old Testament. There are many references to poetry in the New Testament, but the main poetic books of The Bible are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. These books of The Bible contain poems about many topics, including love, worship, wisdom, suffering, relationships, faith, righteousness, hope, charity, sadness, prayer, God’s praises, blessings, and many more related to living in God’s world.

Poetry can reveal what’s on your heart, or convey a message of inspiration. A couple of years ago, the current Poet Laureate of California came to Madera County for a visit. His name is Dana Gioia, and he was appointed by the governor in 2015. It was truly a delight to meet him and to listen to him recite poems that he had written about his life and about what was meaningful to him.

The beauty of language usually shows through in these expressions of the heart. One traditionally English type of poetry is metered, as in iambic pentameter, in which each line consists of 5 sets of unstressed and stressed syllables. A sonnet is written in iambic pentameter. One example is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?"

Another type of regimented poetry is a haiku, which is made up of 3 lines with the first line having 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the last line 5 syllables. On the surface, it seems to be a very simple poetry structure, but it, too, takes inspiration to write a good haiku.

There are many types of poetry, including blank verse (like iambic pentameter), rhymed poetry, free verse, narrative poetry, sonnets, pastoral poetry, haiku, epics, odes, limericks, and a few more. So, there are lots of ways people can express themselves poetically.

When we were kids, we learned the poem, “Roses are red, violets are blue; Sugar is sweet, and so are you.” As typical kids, we found ways to vandalize the poem, as well as other poems. “Roses are red, violets are blue; you’ve got a nose like a B52.”

Poems are fun. Poems are creative, and can provide entertainment as well as inspiration. Limericks are intended to be funny, like this one:

There once was a young girl named Sarah,

Who married a man from Madera.

In July it was hot,

So she said on the spot,

It’s got to be cooler in Sahara.

(I wrote this limerick —can you tell?)

Have you ever tried to write a poem for the world to read? It could be a fun thing to do, especially during this time of isolation, disharmony, and concern for our world. Express yourself in a poem.

The Friends of the Madera County Library is hosting its first annual Poetry Contest. The entries will be judged, and winners will receive prizes. For more information, go to this webpage: (Or you may contact me for more information, as I am also a member of the Friends of the Library.)

The contest is open for residents of all ages who live in Madera County. The contest is divided into (3) children’s age groups, and also adults. The deadline has just been extended to Aug. 1, at 5 p.m., and the poems can be in English or Spanish.

The winners of the poetry contest will also be published in The Madera Tribune, so if you know of any children or adults who would like to try their hands at poetical creativity, please enter the contest at the library.

Have a great weekend!

— My love to all,


• • •

“Praise the LORD, all you nations! Give glory, all you peoples! The LORD’S love for us is strong; the LORD is faithful forever. Hallelujah!”

— Psalm 117


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