(Credit: Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library)
“There is something very deep and resonant and human about poetry that speaks to every person, regardless of their knowledge or experience and schooling.” -Dr. Bohlin
Once again, poetry month has made its mark in English classes and throughout Montrose. One can hear students learning about, reading, and discussing poetry. But why is it so important? Why would we need to take a whole month out of the year just to educate ourselves in order to better appreciate this one genre in particular? Head of School Dr. Bohlin explained: “The fact that we can have a month where students and faculty can share favorite poems or write poetry and we can hear from poetry around the country and around the world why certain poems mean so much to them just kind of brings us together, taps into what makes us human.”
Dr. Bohlin has loved poetry since she was in high school. She recounted a fond memory of teaching John Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn and seeing it come alive. She had two of her students illustrate the images that they perceived from the poem and commented: “Both of them, just listening to the poetry, did these wonderful images.” She still has the artwork today. She said: “One of my favorite things to do is to teach poetry to people who were reluctant, fearful, or critical to poetry.”
Dr. Bohlin. She emphasized the importance of poetry in all aspects of life. She recalled the story of a woman she knew with Alzheimer’s who had stopped speaking. When given a poem, however, the woman read it aloud expressively. “Something about the poetry, the images and the rhythm that is enabling her to speak, she’s able to get that focus and capacity to speak in a way that just having a regular prosaic conversation doesn’t,” she said. Poetry follows the same neural pathway as music, so reading a beloved or beautiful poem can help people recover themselves.
Poetry as a way of healing extends further, though, especially right now. In the midst of a pandemic, a genre meant to communicate and express feelings can help us understand each other and feel understood. This poetry month is the perfect time to discover the beauty in poems. “I think that poetry is perhaps one of the most inspiring and healing genres we can acquaint ourselves with,” said Dr. Bohlin. She advises us to ask friends and family about favorite poems and to take time to discover what makes them so powerful. Appreciating poetry can at most change our lives, and at least enrich them. “Poetry is a way to share, to communicate, to express themselves creatively about what matters most about what connects us as human beings,” Dr. Bohlin told me, and I think that is why it deserves its own month. Its illustration of feelings connects us deeply. We need that now and always.
Poems Mentioned/Recommended by Dr. Bohlin:
Lucy DeMeo ‘24 Co-Arts & Entertainment Editor