National Poetry Month

I love that April is National Poetry Month. Heck, I love that National Poetry Month exists at all, but there’s something appropriate about it being in April. April is just-Spring, when the world is mud-luscious. April is also the cruelest month. Poetry conveys both sentiments, and everything in between.

When I was in second and third grade, I got pulled out of class every week or so with about five other kids for Poetry Enrichment. Well, that’s what I call it now. I didn’t have a name for it then. I think I just called it Poetry. Back then all I knew was that a few other smart misfits and I would head to an empty classroom at an appointed time, and a long-haired, flowy-skirted, bespectacled woman would be waiting for us with a stack of mimeographed pages, damp and heavy with purple ink. Somehow I picked up on the other teachers’ feeling that this woman was a little daft. But I loved the experience.

We read poems, we did the grade-school version of “analysis” of them, we memorized them, and, if I jimmy the lock on that steamer trunk of awkward repressed memory, I think we actually recited them at a school assembly. We learned a lot of Lewis Carroll. I still know “Jabberwocky” backwards and forwards, and have a traumatic spelling bee experience related to the word “chortle.” “The Walrus and the Carpenter” still makes me giggle. I didn’t know back then what a vacant and pensive mood was all about, but I longed for a field of daffodils anyway.

I have no idea who tapped me for this group. Did a note go home for my parents to sign? Did a teacher take it upon herself to nudge me into this activity? Or did the school issue a blanket invitation that I accepted? I probably won’t ever know exactly how it happened, but I owe the universe a debt of gratitude. It set some pretty major things in motion for me. In college, I realized a new acquaintance was going to be a good friend when I said, “Let us go then…” and she added, “…you and I.” And this seminary class changed my life and helped make me the preacher/poet I am, some 25 years after the purple mimeographed sheets. (Teachers, mentors, school volunteers—you make a huge difference.)

Every year during National Poetry Month I resolve to write a poem a day, and I never make it very far. But hope springs eternal…

As for poetry resources to share, I love the Writers’ Almanac daily e-mail, of course. Knopf also sends out a poem each day in April. And I have enjoyed the Poetry Off the Shelf podcast for many years.

Do you have a favorite poem? Do you like poetry? Find it boring? Intimidating? I tend to agree with W.C. Williams, who wrote,

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “National Poetry Month

  1. Teri says:

    My favorite poem (however weird this might sound) is T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. There’s just something about it that I love love love love love.

  2. anne says:

    and for high school students there is the library of congress poetry 180 option which sends a poem a day for the school year. (these are not read aloud to you as w. a. does.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s