Last week, I was standing at the corner of State and Main waiting for the walk signal. I was in a rush to somewhere, but since I had just missed the last walk signal, I decided to turn around and read one of the poems hanging in the window of Coffee Corner. I read “Blending with Light” by Marjorie Ryerson. As I read each line, paying attention to the images and ideas being described, my pulse slowed and I relaxed. I had paused because that is what poetry asks you to do.
Unlike most other activities in our fast-paced culture, poetry asks you to pause; to pay to the pictures, feelings, and thoughts that the poet is carefully describing. That is part of the reason why PoemCity is such a gift; having hundreds of poems posted in storefronts throughout downtown Montpelier gives us the opportunity to pause during our otherwise busy day. While we are running our errands, walking to work, or strolling downtown, we have an opportunity to stop for 60 seconds, read a poem, and potentially shift our entire perspective.
Last week, I made a pact with myself that every time I was walking through downtown, I would read two poems. Since I live and work right downtown, I haven’t stuck with this pact completely, but I have probably read 20 plus poems. Every one of these poems has forced me to pause.