The Official Blog of Ramona Harvey

Author of "Unclipped Wings"

Poetry Is For Everyone, Anyone Can Enjoy “Unclipped Wings”

Poetry is a very misunderstood genre.  It seems many people see poetry as some sort of shapeless blob of abstract thought that they know must have some deep profound meaning – because if it didn’t it wouldn’t be poetry.  Poetry is often seen as secret code, which can only be broken by an elite group of intellectuals, or eccentric poets.  These stereotypes can be intimidating. But you shouldn’t allow yourself to be intimidated by poetry.  The truth is there is no secret code. Poetry is something anyone can enjoy.

But what is poetry? Some types of poems, like Haiku, are rigidly structured, other types appear to have no structure or form at all.  Unlike other forms of writing, even basic grammar rules may or may not apply.  Poetry can rhyme, but it doesn’t have too.  A poem can be very short consisting of only a few words, like my poem “Please” (which is made up of only seven different words – including the title), or it can be long – even epic.  A poem can be used to express an emotion, tell a story, describe a moment, or be simply a learning tool and pneumatic device to help us remember.  Poetry isn’t like any other written art form, but considering the oral tradition from which it originated, this is not surprising.

Some people say they don’t like poetry, because they only like stories.  This is ironic, because poetry was designed for story-telling.  Before books were common, poetry was used to pass on stories and information from one generation to the next.  Poetry originates from a great oral tradition which is why it is often meant to be heard, not just read.

Not everyone will like, understand, or relate to every poem. It is okay to have your own unique tastes and interpretations.  April is National Poetry Month: If you learn nothing else about poetry, I would like you to remember this.  Poetry is an art form that anyone can enjoy.  You don’t have to be a scholar, intellectual, or poet to understand or appreciate poetry. Poetry isn’t something to be intimidated by.

I know I am not telling you anything you don’t already know (as you listen to your favorite songs), but everyday all of our lives are touched, enriched, and influenced by poetry.  This is a good thing, because poetry helps us to connect to and understand others as well as ourselves. I for one think that is a good thing.  I hope you do too.

The Courage to Act, Even If “They Won’t”

“They Won’t” is one of the poems in “Unclipped Wings”.   It has been on my mind a lot this past week. Some people have theme songs, this week I had a theme poem.  This is not surprising given the close relationship between music and poetry, but I am struck by how often I have been reminded of this poem.

The poem begins: “Nobody else does it – so I won’t

That is how we get to the place that we don’t

If you have been following “Unclipped Wings” on Facebook you may have noticed, some posts about people who have not been deterred by the seemingly impossible.  Often, we get overwhelmed. We think a problem is too big and we are too small.  Yet, over and over this week, I am reminded that our actions do matter.  We can make a difference as individuals, especially when we are working together.

Troy Yocum could be at home watching TV and wishing he could do something to help needy military families, but he isn’t.  Instead, he is a on a 7000 mile drumhike.  He is hiking across country to raise awareness and money in order to help needy veterans.  Will he reach all of his goals? I don’t know. I do know he got my attention and has already been able to help several people.  That counts for something.

But the small stuff is important too.  A twelve year old boy named Max, who has terminal cancer, made a wish that he would receive 1 million get well cards.  Now people from all over (including me), are sending him the cards he wished for.  Whether or not Max receives a million cards, the cards being sent make a difference. It is neat so many people are willing to send a card, but the coolest thing is how this twelve year old boy has touch the lives of so many – just by not being afraid to have and share what many would consider an impossible dream.

So, “why continue to care if others just don’t?  Except that we need to.”

 

Unclipped Wings Cultivates Inclusion

March is disability awareness month, and today is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day – so I thought I would take a moment to talk about disability awareness  and what roll it plays in my book Unclipped Wings.

When I got up today I was very aware that I was a person with a disability.  There was no denying it as I transferred into my chair and began my morning routine.  It is obvious that because of my disability there are certain things I am just not able to do – at least not in the way most people do them.  Just looking at me you can tell I have a disability, even if you can’t tell I have cp.  But you cannot tell who I am just by looking at me or classifying my disability.

Growing up as a person with a disability has had a profound impact on my life and my perception of the world.  As is pointed out in my poem “Your Child” even something as simple as a flight of stairs is a different experience for me then it was my brothers.  But far too often we see a person’s disability without seeing, the person.  A person isn’t and should not be defined by their disabilities, yet it happens all the time.  My disability is a part of who I am, but it isn’t who I am.

The same is true about “Unclipped Wings”.  Sometimes people assume that because I have a disability, “Unclipped Wings” is a poetry book about disabilities.  This isn’t true.  I did draw on my experiences as a person with a disability when I wrote some of the poems, but “Unclipped Wings” is not about living life with a disability. (Though we all have them)

“Unclipped Wings” cultivates inclusion of all people not just those with disabilities, because it is a book about life and many of the challenges we all face.  As a person with a disability some of my challenges are obvious, but we all have our own obstacles to overcome.

All of us have the same basic needs.  We all need food, water, shelter, and love.  We also all have our own abilities and disabilities. Everyone is unique. While we may appear different when it comes down to what matters most, we are all more alike then unalike.  It is easy and sometimes natural to judge people and their abilities and potential by their appearances, but we should try to avoid doing that.

We don’t all have the same abilities, but what we chose to do with the abilities we do have is far more important then what are abilities are.

 

Overcoming the Crises in Japan – Keep Strong

The world’s eyes are on Japan right now.  Many are holding their breath waiting to see how bad the crisis and damage will be.  The earthquake and tsunami were quick.  Millions of lives were changed in an instant.  Thousands died and those who survived will never be the same.  There are no quick or easy fixes for those who have lost loved ones and their homes. Right now, as I write this, people are struggling to survive.

We are still waiting to see what will happen at a damaged nuclear power plant.  Nobody knows for sure what is going to happen or what the long term impact will be.  For good reasons people have significant health concerns and are afraid. It is going to take a long time to pick up the pieces of this tragedy.

Times like these remind us how fragile and valuable our lives are.  Many people are scared.  Some may feel helpless and powerless, but do not become hopeless.  Focus on what needs to be done today in order to minimize damage and danger.  Recovery will not be easy but stay focused and begin the slow process of recovery and healing one step at a time.

If you have read “Unclipped Wings”,  you know that I do understand that it is not easy to pick up the pieces when “life takes us to where we don’t belong”.  But sometimes life doesn’t give us much choice.  Nobody said life was fair or easy.  It may be scary, but resist the urge to give up.  We can never be sure what will happen – or what will rise up out of the ashes.

For me it was “Unclipped Wings”.  My heart goes out to the survivors and everyone touched by this tragedy.  May you receive what you need – when you need it, so you can recover and heal.   May you overcome and find yourselves soaring on “Unclipped Wings”.

My thanks also goes out to all the “unnamed heroes” who have, are, and will step up to the plate.  I may not know your name, but I value what you do to make our world a better place.

Ramona Harvey

Video about Unclipped Wings and Author Ramona Harvey

View the video on YouTube here!

Between Two Worlds

Here’s a little background on “Unclipped Wings” and one of the poems in it, titled “Between Worlds.”

“Unclipped Wings” penetrates the consciousness of our society.  “Unclipped Wings” as a collection of poems enlightens, and forces us to be more aware and to acknowledge both our differences as well as the similarities we share with the people we encounter on a daily basis.

“Between Worlds” is a prime example.  Although the poem focuses on Ms. Harvey’s disability, the message is much more.  It parallels the issues and events that we feel and see when we are on the outside looking in.  Many of us at times can relate to standing on a line between worlds, where we do not feel we belong.

This poem highlights a basic struggle we all have when we are trying to figure out who we are, and where we might fit in. This is a common struggle because we often don’t quite fit the cookie-cutter mold of whatever society expects of us.  This can happen to minorities who are struggling to maintain their cultural identities, and fit into a popular culture that does not recognize their personal heritage, or even women who are trying to balance their traditional roles with their more modern career driven ones.

But it doesn’t stop there. Low-income people striving to sustain the status quo, might feel stuck between two worlds as they work towards what they hope will be a better tomorrow.  Still there are other people who are marginalized like the homeless, or orphans, who might literally find themselves “looking in windows but never getting in,” as Ramona found herself doing when she tried to figure out where exactly she belonged.

The realization that everyone, regardless of who they are, has desires and basic needs like love and to be connected to other people is  captured in many of the poems found in “Unclipped Wings.”  This book illustrates that everyone has obstacles and anyone can overcome whatever barriers they face.  This book of poetry is easy to read and something that everyone can relate to, and feel good about after having read it.

%d bloggers like this: