Poem For Your Thoughts: Your Memories Of Love, Captured In Poetry You shared stories of being smitten, stories of betrayal and even a love letter to a dog. Here, author Kwame Alexander selects poems that get to the heart of those experiences.
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Poem For Your Thoughts: Your Memories Of Love, Captured In Poetry

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Poem For Your Thoughts: Your Memories Of Love, Captured In Poetry

Poem For Your Thoughts: Your Memories Of Love, Captured In Poetry

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Are you ready? It's almost Valentine's Day. Poet Kwame Alexander sure is. He wrote the young adult novel "Solo," and Kwame is not waiting until Wednesday to celebrate.

KWAME ALEXANDER: It's Valentine's Day week.

MARTIN: It's Valentine's Day week, which is why you're here.

ALEXANDER: I celebrate it every day. I'm in love with love, Rachel.

MARTIN: Kwame, the last time you were here with us, we asked our listeners to write us and share a specific moment in their life about love. We're going to go through a few of these that you selected in particular. We're going to match these moments with poems. And the first one - let's start with Angela Reece. She sent us this message.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANGELA REECE: Sunny day in a hammock with my lover, Tia. All I can remember is the golden light and her smile, the perfect way we fit together. I knew then I was sunk and in love.

ALEXANDER: Wow.

MARTIN: So when our producer got in touch with Angela, she said that she and her partner were getting married. They're getting married on Valentine's Day. So we want to say congratulations to Angela and Tia. So, Kwame, what poem did you find to pair with Angela's moment?

ALEXANDER: This is a poem I found by E. Ethelbert Miller. It's one of my favorite. It's called "Toothpaste." (Reading) After dinner, you have the habit of curling up in the couch like a tube of toothpaste, all bent, funny and nice. I like to brush after every meal.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEXANDER: Isn't that beautiful?

MARTIN: I love it. I love it.

ALEXANDER: Yes.

MARTIN: All right. So predictably, when you ask people to share love stories, they're going to run the gamut in terms of emotions. And Brenda Honsinger sent in this to us. She writes as follows (reading) my late husband always seemed to have a cup of tea for me when we were at places that didn't offer tea. While cleaning and donating his clothing after he died, I found a tea bag in every pocket. Oh, how I miss being taken care of like that.

ALEXANDER: I have a poem for Brenda. It's by a friend of mine named Jennifer Gresham. It's called "Missing You."

MARTIN: OK.

ALEXANDER: (Reading) The blue cheese dressing rattles inside the refrigerator door, half empty. I thought about opening it, drenching each red-green leaf just to fill my mouth with something that you loved.

So my mom passed away in September, and I remember taking her suitcase and traveling with it to try to remember her, to try to carry her with me. And I remembered this poem from 10 years ago, from reading it. It really stuck with me, and it applied to me, and I think it applied to Brenda.

MARTIN: So we heard a lot of messages from listeners about losing loved ones. We also heard several stories about that moment when you hold your first baby for the first time.

ALEXANDER: Yes.

MARTIN: And this is what Angela Cryan said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANGELA CRYAN: The night my son was born, I didn't put him down for three hours. When I finally did put him down, randomly I said, I love you, love you, love you. That has been our nightly ritual for every night of his life - three I love yous because once was never enough.

MARTIN: That is such a lovely experience. For those of us who are parents, we remember holding those newborns for the very first time. What poem did you find to match that?

ALEXANDER: And that's the beauty of poetry, Rachel, is that it captures those moments for those of us who've experienced them and for those of us who haven't.

MARTIN: Right.

ALEXANDER: They can sort of find their way. This is "A Newborn Girl At Passover" by Nan Cohen. (Reading) Consider one apricot in a basket of them. It is very much like all the other apricots - an individual already, skin and seed. Now, think of this day, one you will probably forget, the next breath you take, a long drink of air. Holiday or not, it doesn't matter. A child is born and doesn't know what day it is. The particular joy in my heart, she cannot imagine. The taste of apricots is in store for her.

MARTIN: Mmm (ph).

ALEXANDER: Right?

MARTIN: That's good, yeah, the anticipation of a life - right? - and everything that that baby's going to experience.

ALEXANDER: I'm feeling all the love today.

MARTIN: Oh, I know you are. So that's, like, the new love of a new baby. And then there's the love that you've been sitting with for a long time. This is, of course, what happens in a long-term relationship, and Lisa Gildehaus sent us this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LISA GILDEHAUS: What's the poem for waking up in the morning, curling up to someone you love and imprinting that moment in my mind? Rough times are behind, and they are certainly are ahead. But for this one beautiful moment, I curl up, rest my cheek and know that it's all extraordinary and yet so every day.

MARTIN: You went to work on this one. You wrote an original poem for her.

ALEXANDER: I did.

Love is an art, and this canvas called life can be vast and lonesome without a full heart to trust, without a joyful noise to share, without you.

MARTIN: Kwame Alexander is the author of the young adult novel "Solo" and the publisher of Versify. It's a new imprint from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kwame, thank you so much.

ALEXANDER: Rachel, I got nothing but love for you.

MARTIN: Ditto, thanks my friend.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE")

ZACARI: (Singing) Love me, just love me.

KENDRICK LAMAR: (Rapping) I want to be with you. I want to be...

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