This National Poetry Month, we ask our readers to share a poem that helps to find courage, solace, and actionable energy, and a few words about how or why it does so. As responses continue to arrive from across the globe, we invite you to continue sharing poems from our Poets.org collection on social media with the hashtag #ShelterInPoems or by writing to us at [email protected]. Whether you’re writing in or tagging to us on twitter, facebook, or instagram, we will select some of your responses to feature on this special Shelter in Poems page.
"Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow" by Robert Duncan
as if it were a scene made-up by the mind...
“This poem, which both separates and merges the real and the imagined, folding and unfolding, is never far from my mind. During these extraordinary days in which we find ourselves enclosed, the capacity to hold nature in the mind, to revisit light by means of the Muse—by which I mean the Imagination—is a crucial and beautiful human gift. It offers shelter. Be well, everyone.”
—Dana Levin, Poem-a-Day Guest Editor for March 2020
"Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is...
“Recently I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poems to a patient who was alone in their hospital room, anxious and afraid given a new diagnosis during a time of visitor restrictions. The patient shared that the poetry and music along with the care of our interdisciplinary team helped them to be less afraid in a time of great fear.”
—Gwendolyn M., Washington
"My Daughter's First Week" by Gennady Aygi
the quietness / where the child is—...
“Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) is a poet I often turn to. He’s brilliantly mysterious, not a poet of easy wisdom; his sort of depth is needed greatly at times like these—verbal and emotional complexity, not bromides. I only know his work through translation of course, but Peter France’s renderings of his poems are marvelous. Since we have a new grandchild, the gentle poem ‘My Daughter’s First Week’ spoke to me with all that is at risk.”
—Brenda Hillman, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
"Instructions on Not Giving Up" by Ada Limón
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out...
“When I walk these days and watch the trees I think how lucky they are. I look to them with the eyes of a child asking how to be so rooted, so patient, ever reaching up. They are the closest thing to hope I can find.”
—Katherine S., Connecticut
"The Broken Sandal" by Denise Levertov
Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke....
“This is a poem I always return to. It is a reminder to live with intention—to re-evaluate those intentions from time to time, and to take care of one another. Remember, everyone is going through this.”
"Brown Love" by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Brown love is getting the pat down but not the secondary screening...
“This is a poem that I find a sense of home with. It reminds me of how important representation is, which is something I needed to hear among a personal struggle with identity. It means a lot to know I’m not alone.”
—Monisha K., New South Wales, Australia
"Thaw" by Edward Thomas
Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed...
"I chose this poem hoping that somewhere high up, birds are picking up the first signs of the current crisis dissipating before a new spring.”