By Ron Rash
In celebration of the 4th of July, a poem about America:
By Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
By M.L. Smoker
By Wesley McNair
By Simon J. Ortiz
By Robert Francis
By Joy Harjo
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
By Margaret Widdemer
When winter-time grows weary, I lift my eyes on high
And see the black trees standing, stripped clear against the sky;
They stand there very silent, with the cold flushed sky behind,
The little twigs flare beautiful and restful and kind;
Clear-cut and certain they rise, with summer past,
For all that trees can ever learn they know now, at last;
Slim and black and wonderful, with all unrest gone by,
The stripped tree-boughs comfort me, drawn clear against the sky.
By Rupi Kaur
From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.
Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.
I’ve seen Rupi Kaur’s poetry shared on Facebook and Instagram so I knew it was something I would like. I’d been wanting to get one of her poetry collections, but I’ve been on a book buying embargo (come to my house and you’ll understand). However, I received The Sun and Her Flowers as a gift from one of my bookclubs and immediately started reading it!
Kaur’s poetry is often criticized for not being “artful” enough for poetry, too cheesy, too simple, too Tumblr. But if you’re a regular reader of Isle of Books, you know that I love sharing poems similar to Kaur’s. I am a fan of more modern poetry, particularly those poems from Modernist and Language Poets. This was the kind of poetry I liked in my classes at college and it is the type of poetry that I also write when I’m struck with the urge to write a poem. I think of this poetry as being very accessible to the average reader. You don’t need to have had any instruction on how to read and interpret poems to enjoy poetry like Kaur’s. And that I think is why her poems are so popular with modern readers.
I liked that this collection was divided into sections that loosely interacted with a theme. Some poems were sad, some were empowering, some made you pause a moment, and others made you fold the page down to bookmark it and remember it. Overall, I think it was a good collection and the drawings were a great companion to the poems.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems from The Sun and Her Flowers:
i am of the earth
and to the earth I shall return once more
life and death are old friends
and i am the conversation between them
i am their late-night chatter
their laughter and tears
what is there to be afraid of
if i am the gift they give to each other
this place never belonged to me anyway
i have always been theirs
*I should also note that this collection is partially about Kaur’s rape and recovery from it. So if you’ve experienced sexual violence, some of the poems in The Sun and Her Flowers might be triggering.
By Carl Phillips