National Poetry Month: Ruminations

April 29, 2009

As you probably know by now, April is National Poetry Month, and as it draws to a close, I thought it might be nice to reflect on some of the fun happenings and share a few poems. Much like with Earth Day, I wish we could have every month set aside to appreciate poetry in its many manifestations. I find poetry to be such a quiet and powerful mode of reflection, solace, and joy.

As part of the celebration this month, I signed up to receive Knopf’s Poem-A-Day, and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a great way to start each morning. Here's a few lines from one of my favorites:

Touch-Me-Nots by Jill Bialosky

She brought a little of the country into the city
in the pots of impatiens she had planted.
The petals white, pure, the opposite of color.
She had transferred the impatiens from the garden,
digging her hands into soil two parts fibrous loam,
one part leaf mold and peat moss and pushing
the roots into the earth.

At the bookstore where I work, I set up an Open Mic Poetry Night, and despite the fact that it took place on the eve of an awful blizzard, some people still braved the weather to join us. We had a great time. I read a poem of Mark Doty's called "House of Beauty," which I recently heard him read when he was at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in March. Here's a sample stanza:

In the dark recess beside the sink
–where heads lay back to be laved
under the perfected heads rowed along the walls–
the hopeful photographs of possibility darken,
now that the House of Beauty is burning.

At our Poetry Bookclub this month, we discussed Seamus Heaney’s Spirit Level, which I loved, but which required more of me as a reader than I am used to. He packs so much into each phrase that a quick read just won’t suffice. I was thrilled when, at the end of the night, we picked two titles for upcoming meetings: Body Clock by Eleni Sikelianos, and For Love of Common Words by Steve Scafidi. Scafidi is one of my all-time favorite poets. Here are a few stanzas:

The Egg Suckers

To the snakes and the rats and the weasels
who skulk and tunnel and dig underneath
the moon and the earth to find the shiny
white ovum of their dreams laying there

warmed under the hen who coughs a little
moving away in the darkness of the gold
hay and the dust of my chicken coop
I say hello now from about fifty feet away

in my writing room at the beginning of Spring
for you are the egg suckers, the midnight
takers-away, the despised and slinky
snoopers, the geniuses of the world who

will be here when we are no more–
you who move with such deliberation,
what you want eventually you get, hauling
the precious cargo gently between your jaws

And don’t forget, tomorrow is Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day (sponsored by The Academy of American Poets), so put a poem in your pocket, share it with a friend or stranger, and spread some poetry love! Let’s squeeze the last drops of poetry appreciation from these last couple days!

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