Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Power of Poetry

The last day of poetry boot camp, I was the critique person assigned to this little gem of a poem by the amazing author Susan Campbell Bartoletti:

The farmhouse lamppost
Shines across the lake,
A pinpoint of light
A steady whisper
in the night.

Here's part of what I wrote to her about it:

"This is beautiful. I connected with its central image so well. Last Christmas, and well after Christmas, I would lie in my bed with the shade up, in the night, and see the neighbor's one strand of Christmas lights, and yes, it would make it easier to get through hard, cold, lonely times - that one little bit of light in the world. So I think you've come up with a central image that anybody would be able to identify with.

"The farmhouse lamppost felt like a lighthouse to me, standing tall, by the water, guiding us away from shipwreck. I love lighthouses - everybody loves lighthouses - so that made the image appealing also. You have both a visual and an auditory image - the pinpoint of light, and the whisper. I liked combining them. It added a layer of richness to the poem, so that we could experience it with both senses. Both the pinpoint of light and the whisper are so small - and yet, so steady, and reassuring. I liked the one rhyme - simple and natural, letting the last line fall into place with a sigh.

"And poetry IS the steady whisper in the night, isn't it? So you've given us a poem about poetry itself. We plunk our little lights on top of our little lampposts and shine them out there into the world, hoping someone might see them and get through the night a little bit better because of us."

To all my fellow poets and writers out there: let those little lights whisper and shine.


  1. Claudia, I love seeing my little poem on your blog! Thanks for calling it a gem -- and thank you for all your helpful insights this week. --Susan

  2. Thank you for sharing Susan's lovely poem, Claudia. I'm going to write it on my heart.