Mindful Poetry | November Notes

Rita Dove, First African American US Poet Laureate

“We tend to be so bombarded with information, and we move so quickly, that there’s a tendency to treat everything on the surface level and process things quickly. That is antithetical to the kind of openness and perception you have to have to be receptive to poetry.”

Rita Dove

Mindfulness Focus – Sensory Experience

November dazzles us with its hues and sunsets, but it also calls us to turn inward as winter approaches. It’s the season of contemplation, a time of winding down, coupled with a time of anticipation as we gather for Thanksgiving. This year’s celebration may look different – a bit more scaled back – but nonetheless we can remember our past gatherings with fondness. Our poets this month ask us to join them in this time of contemplation and joy. Octavio Paz’s poem, “As One Listens to the Rain,” is a call to align ourselves with the season, and Rita Dove’s poem, “Family Reunion” invites us to revel in the gathering of generations – a feasting of joy. 

Octavio Paz reads As One Listens to the Rain (Spanish)

Octavio Paz – As One Listens to the Rain

Read Octavio Paz’ Biography

Rita Dove and Joy Harjo share remembrances of their time as students together and discuss changes in our culture and literature since.

Rita Dove – Family Reunion

Read Rita Dove’s Biography

Continuing Contemplation

  • Place yourself in the setting of the poem.  What can you see, hear, taste, touch and smell?  What sensation stands out for you in the poem?
  • What is the pace of the poem?  Does it move quickly or slowly? Boldly or timidly?  
  • What is the voice of the poem?  For example, is it relaxed, passionate? Humorous or sober?  
  • What do you notice or appreciate about the poem?
  • What connections do you have to the poem?  What chord does the poem strike in you?  Memories or experiences that you’ve had? 
  • How do you feel as you read the poem?  What is the mood of the poem – the “emotional weather” of the poem?
  • What dazzles you in the poem?  What line or image “lights up” for you?
  • How has the poem continued its effect on you since our mindful reading?

Visit our Mindful Poetry Reading page to learn more about this program.

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Mindful Poetry | November Notes