What are your earliest poetry memories? Mine seem to revolve around narrative poems. I particularly remember reading Longfellow’s “Evangeline” in junior high and getting to actually illustrate parts of it. I remember drawing Evangeline and thinking the situations in that very long poem were so far-away and unreal to me, and I tried to make her real by drawing her. To this day, I can picture the little white bonnet and apron I put on her and the long plain green dress, only a few wisps of her brown hair visible coming out of the bonnet.
I also remember Casey at Bat because it was great fun to read out loud and “Paul Revere’s Ride,” “The Highwayman,” Eugene Field’s “The Duel.” and, of course, “The Raven.” In high school, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Renascence” had an impression on me, along with Chaucer’s tales and “Beowulf” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” There is something unique and magical about a story told in poetic form. I think this is why I also enjoy some of the cowboy poets like Baxter Black and Kent Rollins (Oklahoma’s chuckwagon genius and cowboy poet/storyteller—check him out).
The ROMP Tellabration coming up on Nov. 16 will celebrate stories and poetry. I have a story-poem that I wrote for our ghost tales concert at the last Spirit of Oklahoma Storytelling Festival, and I will be telling that, along with reciting other stuff that comes to mind. Others will tell stories and anyone can join in with their own story or poem. And . . . if you have a narrative poem, that would be great, too.
Please comment below: Do you remember any narrative poems from your childhood? Which do you enjoy now? Any thoughts on how story and poetry relate?