“Because I could not stop for death – he kindly stopped for me -”

I don’t know about you but the first time I read this poem by Emily Dickinson I wondered why she stepped into that carriage. Those familiar with the poem understand, but poets like Fukuda Chiyo-ni and Lisa Ann Markuson know from experience.

The essence of poetry can initially seem elusive.  In Emily’s poem, for example, it has everything to do with embracing life, especially when we question the question of death.  Emily’s personal history is like Chiyo-ni, a Japanese poet from the 18th century who struggled through life. Emily was American born and never married, spending most of her life in isolation.

But Emily’s life was filled with family and a life rich in correspondence. As we discovered yesterday on WomanScape, Chiyo-ni also found happiness after she joined a nunnery. There she reveled in the beauty of life’s discoveries while developing her poetry – most prominently done in the Haiku form.

Chiyo-ni, The First Female Haiku Poet in History is a perfect introduction to our modern-day poet and woman making history, Lisa Ann Markuson. Both women have dedicated their lives to nature and realizing a deeper connection to our beautiful world.

What many people don’t realize is that poetry is not some old-fashioned or outdated art. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As one friend put it:

“poets are like ancient social media gurus using taglines and patterns of words to engage their audience.”

I agree except that today’s social media gurus may not be as truthful as poets past even though the very essence of word-smithing and economizing ideas, thoughts and emotions are well intentioned.

In Emily’s poem, her gentlemanly driver personified death and stopped for her because she was willing to go for a ride. Poets are the same – dreaming, reflecting, and meditating – with the courage it takes to think beyond the machinations and perfunctory tasks that fill our days.  Poetry is not for the faint of heart.

When Emily wrote this poem in 1863, it was 23 years before her own death. Show me a person who doesn’t feel more alive when they consider their mortality or knowingly face a pending death? Poetry has the power to shape and save us if we’re open to it.

This truthful experience is the focus of today’s featured products. Naturally, the first is Lisa Ann’s, 102 Haiku Journal: 17 Syllables to Say It All. It is a unique guide conceived by the Haiku Guys & Gals to encourage reflection on a range of subjects, from childhood memories to daily observations in short-form poems called haikus. There are 102 prompts and tips to get readers into a haiku-writing frame of mind.

The second suggestion is Cheryl Strayed’s, Brave Enough. She is the best-selling author of Wild, a Hollywood movie about a woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Cheryl’s collection of poetic verses and quotes draws from a wide range of writings. You can learn more about Cheryl’s hike in our featured story about her last year on WomanScape, The Wild Lens.

While there aren’t any Haikus in Cheryl’s little neon green book, it’s an irresistible read.

It’s filled with wisdom, courage, and laugh-out-loud humor – making it a perfect gift to give and receive. In fact, I found this book in California at a home decor shop while visiting a friend. Thousands of people are inspired by Cheryl’s words and her journey. Her raw spirit is soaked in an ample supply of tough love, helping people like me be brave during our darkest hours.

If we could live inspired by the poetry of life, we’d see how much we have in common with Emily, Chiyo-ni, and Lisa Ann. Hoping you’re inspired by a few bits from Brave Enough (and you are determined to live well.)?

Be brave enough to break your own heart.

You can’t ride to the fair unless you get on the pony.

Keep walking.

Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

Romantic love is not a competitive sport.

Forward is the direction of real life.

Ask yourself: What is the best I can do? And then do that.

Rose McInerney

Author Rose McInerney

Rose combines her love of all things artfully-designed to connect women to a shared community of learning and a richer, more fulfilled self. As a passionate storyteller, published writer, and international traveler, Rose believes women can build a better world through powerful storytelling.

More posts by Rose McInerney

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