Once upon a time I used to spend February 14th alone reading Jane Austen in the bathtub, eating dark chocolates and just trying to make it through the night on which everyone else in the world seemed to be deeply in love but me. Then I wed my best friend. I may adamantly dislike red roses (and secretly think they smell like cheap drugstore perfume), but in these early years of my marriage I have become a Valentine’s Day born-again evangelist. It’s the chance to outdo myself in creating memories with my husband. It’s not at all about buying expensive presents.
This year I’m been working on a love poem as a special gift. If you’ve ever written a poem, you know that the happier the topic, the tougher it is to name it poetically. It’s much easier to write a depressing poem than one that celebrates life.
To prepare I did a lot of reading and rediscovered some of my favorite love poems:
‘The Sun Never Says’ by the Persian mystic Hafez (translated by the Sufi poet Daniel Landsky). This is pretty close to my definition of lasting love.
‘somewhere i have never traveled, gladly‘ by the American minimalist e.e. cummings. I used to walk my dog past the late poet’s Cambridge, Massachusetts home, repeating this poem on the tip of my tongue. It perfectly captures the ecstatic first moments of new love.
‘Patterns‘ by Amy Lowell. I found this poem in the bound volume that I received from my English teacher at age 12. I remember reading this and weeping as a teenage girl, then re-reading it and weeping some more.
‘The Horse Fell off the Poem‘ by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (translated by Fady Joudah). One of my great regrets in life is not going to hear Darwish read in Amman the year I was living there. He passed away soon after. I turn to The Butterfly’s Burden quite often in the mornings.
After all my practice, imagine my delight in being invited to advise the readers of Good Magazine on ‘How to Write A Love Poem’ just in time for Valentine’s Day! I had a marvelous party (attendance: 1! just me in a princess dress, teacup in one hand, red pen in the other) at my little desk preparing this short tutorial.
I hope that my ideas will prove helpful to you. Even if you are single, consider writing a love poem as a gift to yourself, your mother, or a good friend who needs a treat. If you are very brave, leave an anonymous love poem in a public place to make a stranger’s Valentine’s Day sort of magical.
The article was published in the February 2014 issue of Good Magazine and can be downloaded here: Love poem
Good Ideas: The ladies at reMade DXB and I are collaborating to offer a special 3 hour workshop on writing love poems on the 10th of February! We’ll meet in the cozy reMade crafting studio, put on a cup of tea, nibble delicate cakes, and call our inner creative spirits out to play. With our imaginations and some ink, we’ll each pen a Valentine’s Day love poem in no time at all. The spaces are extremely limited, so do sign up here. It would be wonderful to write together!