In the mid-nineties, Americans began to celebrate April as National Poetry Month, courtesy of the Academy of American Poets. The celebration is observed by those who still love what is arguably the most difficult art to do well.
When was the last time you read a poem? Maybe it’s time.
By circumstance, as I interviewed singer-songwriter Misty Posey for a recent column, I discovered a new poetry site. Strong Verse had published some of Posey’s own poems, and once I surfed to the site, I spent more time there than I should have.
Poetry is a reflection of our culture, and partly as a result of supply exceeding demand, poets are no longer the heroes they were when I was a young girl who fell in love with the likes of Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, James Dickey, Emily Dickinson, and later, the remarkable Kim Addonizio. I can still hear Addonizio’s poem “Therapy” [from the book Tell Me] in my head. I was honored to interview her and write about her on more than one occasion.
Poetry can be found all around us today, every day of the year. Much of it is unintelligible, a result of poetry mills at universities where professors who climb the proper ladders control grant money and publication. I hear phenomenal poetry arising from the populace at large. One such poet is Odd Rod Borisade. I often call him “America’s Poet” because his work is well-crafted, yet accessible to anyone willing to listen and think.
Rod has a number of his poems on video online. One of my favorites is “The Professional.”
Another of my favorite poets, Jennifer Reeser, has published widely, and her sonnets are something to behold.
Do you have favorite poems? I do, and as with music, I never tire of hearing them. One of my all-time favs is a poem that almost got a professor fired. Yes, poetry can be risky. The poem is by William Trowbridge. It is brilliant. It is ribald. It is amazing. “Kong Looks Back on His Tryout With the Bears” got Professor Bruce Fleming into a world of politically inspired trouble. My hat’s off to the prof for turning his students on to a brilliant work. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen an investigation occur because of a poem.
In addition to Strong Verse, the website Your Daily Poem is a great anthology comprising all styles and approaches in poetry. YDP was founded by my friend in real life Jayne Jaudon Ferrer. Jayne is a widely published author, not just in the genre of poetry but also in fiction and nonfiction.
As April progresses, I hope to interview some poets and share their stories and work here. I still write poetry, although I am not very much motivated to try to get it published. I think the last book tour I did did me in on the business aspect of poetry.
Favorite poems are like favorite songs. You can hear them in your head, and you can recall them for pleasure or comfort whenever you like. The Web offers a wealth of poetry both good and bad, but it offers something for just about any aesthetic. As April arrives, visit some of these sites and remember that poetry can be just as comforting and inspiring as its sister genre music.
If you haven’t read a poem in a long time, change things up. For accessibility, revisit Robert Frost. Then expand your boundaries and enjoy the wisdoms of those who see the world in a different dimension.
(Kay B. Day/March 29, 2018)