a reliable friend in poetry


A good, solid friendship is a lot like poetry; that kind of thing that is difficult to fully appreciate until one really, and often accidentally, benefits from it, and then, it becomes worthy of headline news and daily study.

Poetry on friendship,  however, is often over-loaded with too much sentiment, and like too many sweets, can hide the goodness that should be there – in fact, it can make a poem feel like it lacks substance – and that should never happen when writing about a friend.  Having and being a good friend is not just sweet but essential to healthy, human success.

In this week’s poetry video on the lyw channel, we celebrate poetry that values reliable friendship — friendship that not only provides sweetness, but protein, good fatty acids, and bitter healthy greens. This video is also a great way to balance the poetry on war and strife that was discussed in the last blog on this site.

Slide2Creating a video compilation of poetry on friendship, even in fragments, was a challenge.  Most of what I found on the internet was of the greeting-card variety — very generic and easy to apply.  Poems on friendship, like other ‘sentimental’ poems, are the hardest poems to write well because of the over-abundance of sentiment, similes and the need to explain in prose.  i.e. ‘I love you because you’re great… etc., etc., etc.’

Now I realize my ideas of what makes a great poem is not universal.  As well, poetry found on-line, on any subject, is limited.  However, it makes me sad that I found more great poems on the subject of war than great poems on friendship, in my biased internet research.

Slide3I began crafting this video with Maya Angelou’s, ‘A Conceit,’ for its warmth balanced with strength and clarity.  Then, I invoked a little T.S. Eliot, as well as a fragment from one of my favourite friendly poets, Robert Burns, even though I have difficulty understanding his Scottish English.  It is easy to understand his warmth, vitality and poetic eye for what he values most in his life.  He aims his poetry very specifically and with a robust heartfelt vigour.  I also featured a sample from Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market poem.  Although this poem doesn’t directly address friendship very often, the heroism in the poem is an act of profound love and friendship.

Thank you for reading this blog.  Please click on the link to enjoy the latest video compilation on the lyw Youtube channel celebrating of poetry on friendship:

I would also like to invite poets to submit poetry celebrating a friend or friendship to this blog site, ‘a reliable friend.’  It is an old blog site that was originally created to celebrate a friend arriving at her 40th birthday and reinvented in an effort to continue building an on-line library of poetic friendship strong enough to hold any kind of front-line.






Image Sources:

Three Red Rambutan Fruit Trees Are Hanging – http://www.hbr-online.com/2014/10/tiga-buah-rambutan-merah-tergantung-di-pohon-pid-124.html

“Die landschaft mit den drei baeumen” by Rembrandt – http://www.reproarte.com : Home : Info : Pic. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_landschaft_mit_den_drei_baeumen.jpg#/media/File:Die_landschaft_mit_den_drei_baeumen.jpg

Arthur Rackham illustration of ‘the Goblin Market’: c/o https://www.pinterest.com/pin/237142736598747301/

Why Choose a Poet?


quote from a poem by Leonard Cohen

Unlike the usual handshake and hello, if you want to get to know a poet, meet him or her in their poems.  Poets reveal themselves in their work though not always directly or deliberately.  It’s like having a backdoor to somebody’s character, bypassing small talk and public appearances.

Maybe we don’t want to get to know people that intimately.  Maybe we are already buried with what people want to share.

Langston Hughes continues to be one of my favourite poets and though many of his poems are brilliant not all of them are great.  His contribution to poetry goes beyond his acclaimed and academically studied poems.  This poet wrote so prolifically that it is easy to feel like you can meet him through the various stages of his life, and through his poems I always have access to a beautiful searching soul.

quote from a poem by Sappho

We are all beautiful souls.  Not all of us have the talent (or time) to express or study them the way our master poets have.

Now there are many writers and poets who I have found beautiful in their work and not so much in their biographies.  ie. Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, etc … So, maybe I am being naïve about a writer’s humanity being revealed in their work? Maybe a horrible person can still produce beautiful poetry?   Fact is, there are many beautiful souls who do not write beautiful poetry.

To the not-so-beautiful poems, a voice needs the opportunity to evolve and they don’t all evolve the same way.

And to the beautiful writing but questionable characters?  Go ahead and call me naïve but I think if these writers did not always live their lives well, or to my best opinion, anyway, they got a chance to show their better sides in their writing.  Better doesn’t always mean pretty or nice.  Hughes’ beautiful soul didn’t always write pretty poems or happy ones.  Sometimes, it’s that courage or chance to be more real.  And that can often happen by accident in creative writing.

Poets never leave; they don’t die.  Poets never stop asking their questions; they never stop looking for their answers.  Poets are always accessible and alive whenever you are ready to open their poems.

Poets make good company.

Check out this great link to ‘life lines’ that people have found in the poetry of others:  https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/life-lines

Please also check out the latest addition to the lyw channel on Youtube, making poets and poetry our daily treat and exercise.  This new addition is a video in two parts called, ‘… a small piece of poetry can often feel very big…’  In this video, I collected some fragments of poetic gems and animated them with a little eye-candy and background music.  I hope I am not too biased when I say the animation does actually animate the text.

Video Part 1: ‘… a small piece of poetry can often feel very big …’


Video Part 2: ‘… a small piece of poetry can often feel very big …’