words ideas knowledge



“Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, it just has to touch someone where your hands couldn’t.”


Rudy Akbarian




“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”


Carl Sandburg




“It’s not just what you say that stirs people. It’s the way you say it.”



Bill Bernbach




“I want to whisper poetry into your mind and imprint love letters to your soul and dance with you in an empty white room of potential …”


Jeffrey McDaniel




by Regina Derieva

A Poem


A poem—

is just one more

scrap of paper

that has sailed off the table

in a bottle

with a cry for help.





poetry lovers bullwinkle

April was pretty much poetry’s version of NCAA basketball March Madness.

April is National Poetry Month.


And poetry actually had a pretty good month … it reminded everyone that it is still alive and kicking.


This past April poetry made a comeback … a comeback in that a couple of good tv commercials used poetry.


I will admit.

I don’t know why poetry isn’t used more often in advertising. It is not like there is any shame in using words written by someone else <particularly if they are really good words>.



Several years ago I highlighted a fantastic Jeep commercial using a poem called “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost <and even used an original taping of Frost himself reading the poem>.




In the past month two television advertisements … which seemed to have endless play time … featured poetry – Volvo <Walt Whitman> and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America <Dylan Thomas>.


I will begin with Volvo.



Song of the Open Road

By Walt Whitman



Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.



From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,

Listening to others, considering well what they say,

Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,

Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of space,

The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.


I am larger, better than I thought,

I did not know I held so much goodness.




Handwritten poetryThose last two lines are fabulous.


Kudos to Volvo using poetry.


What a refreshing way to capture the essence of owning a luxury car. Instead of encouraging an ego-driven ideal for ownership and avoiding a competitive ‘bigger, stronger, safer, faster’ message they went … well … reflective.


The actual script for the commercial is a shortened version of ‘Song of the Open Road’ read over a bed of beautiful music.


Volvo Television commercial script:

Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of the Open Road’ reads: 

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 
Strong and content I travel the open road. 

You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, 
I believe that much unseen is also here. 

Here is realization, 
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him, 
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them. 

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me. 
I inhale great draughts of space, 
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine. 

I am larger, better than I thought, 
I did not know I held so much goodness. 

All seems beautiful to me.


<this is the long extended version of the Volvo execution where aspiring poet reads the poem>



It’s a fabulous choice of a poem for drivers who tap into their inner appreciate of the journey <rather than the rush>.


I think overall it’s nice.


It is an excellent use of some borrowed interest … and intellectual interest.

Some may suggest this is lazy creativity in that it borrowed pretentiousness to ‘sell’ … I would disagree. Creativity doesn’t have a formula and sometimes borrowing from the old and remaking it anew is just as powerful, maybe even more powerful, in crafting a message that resonates subconsciously and consciously.

compromise life good want you they



And then there was good ole big Pharma stepping up to the plate with Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night <one of my favorite poems>.



The drug industry’s major lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, recently launched a powerful image campaign anchored by a stunning television commercial. As you probably know, the industry took a PR beating during the presidential campaign and now President Trump has taken aim at them. The new campaign, dubbed “GoBoldly,” is designed to elevate the industry in our hearts and minds. They have very effectively appropriated the work of one of my favorite poets, Dylan Thomas, to position biopharma companies as explorers, pioneers and risk-takers – “finding the unfindable.”

Big Pharma. Only 9 percent of Americans believe they care about patients more than profits, according to a new Harris poll.


Now the drug companies are fighting back with a stirring campaign called “Go Boldly” that attempts to remake their reputation from that of shameless profiteers.



This ad is well crafted in that it juxtaposes a relatively somber reading of the blog-writing-work-from-homepoem with contemporary imagery , moving at a faster pace than the words themselves, to create that symbolic tension of death and slowing death <by making Life faster>.


They seal the messaging deal by offering up some words on the screen:  “When an indomitable will to cure pushes researchers to find the unfindable and cure the incurable, today’s breakthroughs become tomorrow’s medicines. For all of us.”




The message itself may be debatable in the cynical minds of the everyday schmuck <death and disease are the bad guys and drug makers are the good guys> but they get an A+ for the attempt.


I will mention that their microsite, GoBoldly.com , is worth visiting. They share patient stories and celebrate advancements in medicine made possible by America’s biopharmaceutical companies.


All that said.


Time is, and always has been, the judge of poetry.


Time will sift the good stuff from the bad. Time will sift through the lines and pages and often offer us scraps of memory. I imagine Time will sift, and offer scraps, so I don’t have to <because I am not certain I know how to judge poetry>.


You have to believe this because … in the here and now … a life writing poetry pretty much guarantees is what one poet called death by neglect.


But I would argue that poems themselves may be neglected but their words, or scraps, are never neglected <I am not sure poets would take solace in that>.


Poetry will never be mainstream reading. And, yet, it continuously touches us in words we say, quotes we use and the ongoing lexicons of wisdom and culture.

While I am sure poets rub elbows and have their own version of march madness <which none of us notice> their ongoing legacy is not really selling books or true fame as people … but rather they hit upon the moments. They maybe go 1 for 4 in their game but that one hit is a grand slam.


For example.

jeep frost

I cannot remember the first time I read about Robert Frost, 87-year-old hunched against the wind squinting in the glare of the sun as he tried to read a poem he had specifically written for JFK’s inauguration, where Richard Nixon, just defeated by Kennedy, reached across to block the glare with his top hat and the well renowned curmudgeon Frost waved him off and began reciting from memory one of his best-known poems “The Gift Outright.”



The Gift Outright

By Robert Frost


The land was ours before we were the land’s.

She was our land more than a hundred years

Before we were her people. She was ours

In Massachusetts, in Virginia,

But we were England’s, still colonials,

Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,

Possessed by what we now no more possessed.

Something we were withholding made us weak

Until we found out that it was ourselves

We were withholding from our land of living,

And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright

(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)

To the land vaguely realizing westward,

But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,

Such as she was, such as she would become.



That was a grand slam.


And our history and lives are strewn with them.


I think we all walk around with lines from the poetry of Whitman, Millay, W.B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, e.e. cummings, Auden and others rattling around in our heads because the scraps of their poems elevate thoughts, ideas and how we think about things in general.


The scraps enter into the conversation to make sadness sadder, beauty more beautiful, depth deeper and vision sharper.

scraps of dreams pick up

I cannot remember the last time i bought a book of poetry … from a contemporary poet or classic poet … but I can remember lines of poetry from them all.


It was Auden who said that ‘poetry is a way of happening, a mouth’.  Poetry just brings out ‘moreness.’


But it is when I think of Auden I always remember … stop the clocks   … <most people will remember it from 4 Weddings & a Funeral>.



Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.


Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.


He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.


The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.






Whether we know it or not we all carry scraps of poetry around with us.




“You’ll find yourself going back to certain poems again and again.

After all, they are only words on a page, but you go back because something that really matters to you is evoked in you by the words.

And if somebody said to you, Well, what is it? Or what do your favourite poems mean?

You may well be able to answer it, if you’ve been educated in a certain way, but I think you’ll feel the gap between what you are able to say and why you go on reading. “


Adam Phillips



And, I admit, I like it when advertising reminds us of some scraps to add to our pocketful of poetry.


scraps of ocean stonesAs for me?


I carry scraps around with me wherever I go and try and create some non-crappy scraps of my own. I will never be a Frost, Whitman, Thomas, Auden or … well … anyone published but it doesn’t stop me from grabbing some words and throwing them on a piece of paper hoping they become some useful scrap I can use to make an idea, thought or memory a little bit … well … more.




“If I knew where poems came from, I’d go there.”



Michael Longley



If I knew where any of the poetry I write came from … I would go there. I have no clue how the talented writers consistently come up with what they come up with.


What do I take solace in?

writing deep thoughts cursive

All writing is awesome. Doesn’t matter if it is bad poetry or bad blog posts or well-crafted television ads or even classic scraps of some of the world’s best poetry.

As long as you recreate the consistently disorderly stuff and experiences in today’s world into some orderly thing … it isn’t really bad. It just … well … is.


Of course … this is awesomely difficult as well as awesomely easy. Just as awesome poetry is easily offered to create some order in a disorderly world the words that do such a thing are awesomely difficult to create.




Poetry had a good month this past April.


one year

i met april just before winter,

the cold

seemed less bitter

that year.


Me <written years ago>

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Written by Bruce