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Last week – in the pub if it must be known – I was trying to articulate to a friend I hadn’t seen in a while how much I’m enjoying regularly reading poetry. I think she was unsure how to take this fact at first, despite her being someone who loves books and literature, as well as music and other artforms. A look of understanding dropped though, when I explained how I thought poetry can speak to you in the way a great song can, or it could be a quick welcome distraction from your day (hello Insta poetry) or be part of an electrifying public experience like you could get from a slam poetry night (click, click, click*).

Two years ago, realising I don’t read much poetry these days - despite enjoying it when I was at university - I decided to set a daily ritual around exploring different poetry and poets. Every morning prior, I would stand around idly waiting for my tea to brew, so I thought why not read one poem in that time? I bought a little date diary (and this year I’m using a Faber poetry diary) and each day I would mark which poem I read and by whom, as well as a quick mark of whether I liked, loved or felt ambiguous about it (we can’t love ‘em all!). And from there my love for poetry has grown and grown…That’s my story, and I’m sure many of you have your own.

With mega poets like Amanda Gorman (Presidential Inauguration!) and Rupi Kaur (4.3 million follows on Instagram!) bursting into mainstream culture, the time to jump on board and experience this beloved literary form is now…

This month as part of the Dymocks Reading Challenge, we are doing a mini #dymockspoetrychallenge to encourage our Booklovers to READ ONE POEM A DAY FOR THE MONTH OF JULY (keep your eye on our blog and socials this month for author poetry readings, competitions, fave poems and more).
 

Here are my top tips on how to incorporate poetry into your life:

MAKE A POETRY READING RITUAL

You might not brew tea in the morning, or you might be more alert in the evenings, or be a read-in-bed-before-lights-out kind of person – I think the trick here is to pick a ritual that would work in with your routine or lifestyle. You might set an alarm reminder in the phone, have a poetry stack next to the bed, or decide to read one poem on the bus to work in the morning – whatever will work for you. And pick short poems 😉
 

PICK AN ANTHOLOGY TO START YOU OFF

Where to start? And how will I know what style of poetry I like? A great place to begin is with an anthology of poetry. That way you can explore lots of poets in just one book. There are some brilliant poetry anthologies on the market right now – I highly recommend Love is Strong as Death selected by musician Paul Kelly, which includes everyone from Sylvia Plath to hilarious New Zealand poet Hera Lindsay Bird to Lord Byron and Keats. A Poem for Every Day of the Year is another lovely anthology and ties in with the challenge nicely.
 

FOLLOW FOR INSPIRATION

There are plenty of poetry resources and poets to follow to get you inspired! The popular @poetryisnotaluxury Instagram account will give you a daily dose of verse and is a good way to discover new voices. Red Room Poetry organisation will introduce you to the exciting breadth and diversity of poets here in Australia, as will Rabbit Poetry Journal. Or my tip for a fun and playful account to follow is a guy referred to as the “Poet Laureate of Twitter” @brian_bilston
 

START COLLECTING

You may start with a favourite celebrity collection like Lana Del Ray’s Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, Halsey’s I Would Leave Me If I Could, or Margaret Atwood’s Dearly, or explore some of the truly electric poetry coming out of our First Nations poets like Ellen Van Neervan (whose collection Throat cleaned up at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards), Evelyn Araluen’s critically acclaimed DropBear, or national treasure Tony Birch’s Whisper Songs. And there’s a reason people are still reading the classics! We’ve put together some recommendations for you over at this poetry challenge page.
 

LIVE IT

Ever experienced the energy of a live poetry night? Or seen an online recording of a live poetry reading that really blew you away (for me it is Shake the Dust by two-time U.S. national poetry champion Anis Mojgani)? Or been to a poetry slam like the ones run by the legends at Bankstown Poetry Slam and Word Travels? Most states have a great writers festival that often feature poetry events, or you may find there is a poetry night at your local pub. Ever tried to write your own poetry? Perhaps it’s time to start your own?

*If you know, you know.

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