Farm and Poetry – perspective matters

grain field with sun rays

Well, if that isn’t an interesting match up to work with.

It happens to be World Poetry Day, March 21. I can’t say that I am a poet nor have I a keen eye for poetry. But I do enjoy picking different perspectives and looking at my daily life with a new set of lenses.

The Poem Farm

A quick google search reveals that there is “The Poem Farm” . It’s a collection of poems and inspirations for class room teachers and young students. Their motto is “Growing Poetry and Lessons”. A fitting analogy to actual farming. Prepare a field (classroom) that can provide a nourishing growing environment for the plant (the students). Let the students thrive through experimenting with words. Just like a plant that sends out new shoots, leaves and blossoms. In the end, they all work together to bring out a fruit, which is as unique to the plant as is the poem to the student.

Whilst you may discover a new taste from the field, you may also find new meaning of a subject through a poem.

The farming poet

A second search online brings me straight to Robert Burns. Likely the most well known poet there is, even I have heard of him before. He lived in 18th century Scotland, a time that saw an economic shift from agriculture to industry. That in turn drastically changed social arrangements and increased social inequities. Burns followed his father’s example by becoming a tenant farmer.

Although he wasn’t the first agriculturist to put pen to paper, but he did set a standard in poetry for self-taught writers describing the landscape from an embedded perspective. There’s a great distinction between these poets, who, because their survival depends on it, have a far more intimate relationship with the land, and those who describe it while looking at it from their firesides on the other side of the window. As a poet he recorded and celebrated aspects of farm life, regional experience, traditional culture, class culture and distinctions, and religious practice and belief. He did so in such a way as to transcend the particularities of his inspiration, becoming finally the national poet of Scotland. Read more on  and The Guardian – “where are today’s farmer poets”.

What’s the take home message?

Well, learn from those that not just walk the talk but also talk about their walk. Listen to them. It’s a much more insightful perspective, which can lend strength and inspiration to move forward. For many, a poem might not be a very contemporary or modern way of expressing emotions or views on whatever subject. It doesn’t easily grow on you, yet, we shouldn’t underrate its value. But then again – heirloom vegetable varieties are making a comeback as well.


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