Poetry: The art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts. Literary work in metrical form; verse. – Dictionary.com
“South Dakota, land of sunshine,
But where the wind will never die!
Where fields and gardens, rain-starved pastures
Search in vain a cloudless sky.
“Endless wind and hot, dry summers,
Everything may not be good. . .
But think about those other places,
Would you change, really, if you could?
“Earthquakes, fires, floods, volcanoes,
Every place has things to fear,
But South Dakota, land of sunshine,
Things are really better here!”
It’s rare that a newspaper has the opportunity to publish an original poem.
The author, Iva Fleming, my aunt and now 97 years young, has loved language and words all of her life. She has written many poems, most of them unpublished by her choice.
Her career, after majoring in English at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, made good use of her expertise. She taught school at Owanka and Parker, then wrote advertising copy for agencies in Chicago and Los Angeles. Most of her professional life was spent as an executive secretary in public relations for the Lockheed Aircraft Corp.
Many years ago, however, one of her poems, “Reflections,” was published in a poetry anthology. An excerpt:
“I leave here now, but I’ll return some day
To streets that you and I once loved to walk;
To visit once again those out of way
Secluded spots where we could sit and talk.”
It is a love poem, one of many she wrote over the course of her life.
Sometimes I wonder who reads, or writes, poetry today. Occasionally a newspaper will have a “poetry corner,” where it prints something that doesn’t look or sound like poetry. It is prose masquerading as poetry.
One of my favorite publications, South Dakota Magazine, includes a “poetry” section but most often the works do not resemble traditional poetic form. The stories they tell read like prose, which they are.
Rhyme, meter, verse, allusion and other poetic devices have fallen out of favor, it seems.
But not for Iva. Her “Reflections” poem ends this way:
“There is a Force that makes you yearn
For places you’ve been happy, so you find
No matter where you go, you must return
As if you’d left some part of you behind.
I was in love here once and that must be
Why every city street seems part of me.”
March 8, 2017