Introducing: Poems of Love and Compassion


This week we released our online Spring exhibition, Poems of Love and Compassion. Now, and always, we can benefit from a reminder of how much love, compassion, and light exists in this world. Love poems are one of the most sought-after genres amongst Poetry Center patrons; whether to share with a sweetheart on an anniversary, recite at a best friend’s wedding, use as inspiration for their own love letters, or to remind one’s self how to look forward. In this exhibition you will find twenty-six different recordings, books, and broadsides. The poetry within presents both a large-scale view of humanity’s interconnectedness and a glimpse into life’s most intimate moments. “When Giving Is All We Have” by Alberto Rios, Arizona’s first Poet Laureate, kicks this exhibit off with a reminder of what it means to give. Rios writes “You gave me blue and I gave you yellow,/ Together we are green. You gave me/ What you did not have, and I gave you/ What I had to give – together, we made/ Something greater from the difference.” This poem is a testament to the necessity and beauty of mutual aid, which is the one thing that has given me the greatest hope during this year of grief, violence, and fear.

A unique feature of this exhibition is the inclusion of sounds recordings of some of the featured poets reading their work. I am excited that we can offer these recordings because, with the Poetry Center’s COVID-related closures, we have had to learn how to keep our online exhibitions just as engaging as our in-person exhibitions once were. The opportunity to share with you the poet’s work in their own voice is a special one. Though I tried, I cannot pick one favorite piece from this exhibition, so I will offer a few and the reasons I love them.

"Naming the Heartbeat" by Aimee Nezhukumatahil

“Naming the Heartbeats” by Aimee Nezhukumatahil is bursting with joy and Nezhukumatahil’s signature whimsy.

"Vows (for a gay wedding)" by Joseph O. Legaspi

Joseph O. Legaspi gives a moving reading of his poem “Vows (for a gay wedding).”

Cover of "You Are Who I Love" by Aracelis Girmay

“You Are Who I Love” by Aracelis Girmay was printed in the two-hundred and twenty-ninth issue of Belladonna, a series of chaplets that feature works-in-progress.

"On Turning One" by Derek Sheffield

Derek Sheffield’s “On Turning One” features a gorgeous illustration of a bird and tells us the story of his daughter’s first birthday.

"Song of Benediction" by William Pitt Root

Finally, the exhibition closes with William Pitt Root’s “Song of Benediction” which offers a blessing to everyone who reads it and ends with the line “May you love yourself as you are loved.” Please enjoy these poems of love and compassion.