A Habit of Poetry

By , February 1, 2019

Americans have gotten out of the habit of poetry, I think.

The impression I got growing up was that poetry is something poets do. “Ordinary people” might read poetry but seldom do they write their own. When I took a trip to Ireland with a college class, we were told that everyone in Ireland writes poetry. They may never publish, but they write casually as they go about their daily lives. Our bus driver, Brían, recited some of his poetry for us as evidence.

Chores provide ample time for reflection and composition. (Photo: Sarah A. Zeiger)

For a while after my class I was determined to adopt a habit of writing poetry, but contrived inspiration often results in contrived verse. Most of what I wrote felt forced and saccharine. Striving toward the goal of writing poetry on a regular basis was not successful, but perhaps a goal of remembering that everyone can write poetry casually will produce better results.

Five years on, poetry occasionally occurs to me. During chores and other physical activities, my mind wanders in and out of verse. Rarely do I remember to write it down. When I do, my first instinct is to fritter it away and keep it to myself, or to preface with the caveat that I’m not a “real” poet if I do share something.

After adding substantially to my woodpile over the past few days, I stepped out of my comfort zone, wrote down a poem, and shared it. I hope it inspires you to do the same. We can all write poetry, about anything. We simply need to accept that, and then have the courage to do so.


On the first day
The weather was clear.
She went out into the woods
and found a sound, dead tree.
She brought it home
and cut it into careful lengths.
And was satisfied with her day.

On the second day
The weather was crisp.
She warmed up
while chopping the rounds.
As it grew dark she stacked the wood
in a dry place.
And was satisfied with her day.

On the third day
The weather was wild.
She sat by the fire
and stared out the window.
And stayed warm and dry
with plenty of firewood stashed away.
And was satisfied with her day.

“The weather was wild.” (Photo: Sarah A. Zeiger)

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