Because Poetry

Happy National Poetry Month!

Spotted at Jennifer Grassman's blog - click through for a 2014 poetry writing challenge.

Spotted at Jennifer Grassman’s blog – click through for a 2014 poetry writing challenge.

Occasionally I wonder if we should call poetry something else, like lexicography gymnastics or maybe the grand sensual buffet. Something sexier, peppier, less likely to make people break out in hives. People who love poetry see the word quite differently of course. It even sounds different: all those uninhibited vowels floating around (broad o, bridge of eh, musical tweet of ee), anchored solely by p and t, with the r kind of gliding by, like the tail of a kite. Just enough consonants to hang on to, sturdy fence posts in a windstorm.

Hm. Maybe we should stick with “poetry” a little longer: like a bracing spring gale, it has hopeful possibilities.

Every year or so I make a case for exploring poetry. This year, though, I’m taking the next step and writing my way through the exercises in The Poet’s Companion. It’s messy, joyful, splendid work, and if you’re ready too, there are a whole lot of other books to guide and inspire you. If you’re not quite there yet (never say never),  the Academy of American Poets has other suggestions for celebrating National Poetry Month, including celebrating “Poem in Your Pocket Day” (April 18) and playing Exquisite Corpse, which not only sounds edgy and dangerous, but is also guaranteed to rescue any meeting stretching into its third hour, provided you can find some co-conspirators.

Here are some other ways you can explore poetry in April, and all year ’round:

  • 3 Poems By… is a great opportunity to be social with other poetry-curious folks, and try a poet on for size with small chunks of her/his work. This month’s discussion spotlights Edna St. Vincent Millay, the “First Fig” fraulein; e-mail newandfeatured at carnegielibrary dot org to get the scoop, and the poems.
  • Curious about how poetry intersects with the mundane world? Don’t forget Sam Hazo’s presentation, Poetry and Public Speech, on April 7th, 2014, 6-8 p.m.
  • Consult the Pittsburgh Literary Calendar to find a reading that’s convenient for you. You’ll be surprised and pleased at how much diversity and range there is on the local poetry scene.
  • Pressed for time, but have your phone with you? Download some poetry from our Overdrive digital collection. Busy Apple users can also download the Poem Flow app and share the communal reading experience of a new poem every day.
  • Countless options for streaming and recorded poetry online abound, both on the free web and via the Library’s subscription to Naxos Spoken Word Library (valid card number required for login). Bonus: NPR’s Music and Metaphor has just kicked off its 2014 Poetry Month programming.
  • Shake up your perceptions of what poetry is by flirting with cowboy poetry! You know you want to. We’ll never tell.
  • Like videos? You can watch everyday people reading their favorite poems at the Favorite Poem Project.
  • More of the research and facts type? Check out this report on the state of poetry in America.

And, of course, we’d be thrilled if you’d consider stopping by the library to meet the poets in person, as it were. Introduce yourself to Yona Harvey, Nikky Finney, David Whyte, Rumi, Sonia Sanchez, anybody whose cover art looks interesting, or whose titles grab you. Go for an anthology, so you can meet a whole lot of poets at one time. Keep throwing things against your heart to see what sticks. Borrow then as audiobooks, Playaways, or DVDs, and don’t forget that musicians can be poets too.

Just don’t let National Poetry month go by without giving it a teensy bit of a whirl. Because poetry is for kidsadults, and teens, working people and retirees. Because poetry covers every single point on the erotic spectrum, and is produced by as many different kinds of people as there are in the world (and, sometimes, their cats). Because…well, why not?

Because poetry.

–Leigh Anne

who promises she won’t corner you in the elevator and ask your opinion on drafts

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Because Poetry

  1. Reblogged this on Sexy Geeky Life and commented:
    I love poetry and I have many book collections and I will do my best to share some of my favorite.

  2. I admit to not liking poetry that much (say what you mean, please!) but I have a soft spot for Dorothy Parker’s snarky poetry.

  3. great post, and wonderful suggestions.

    “Strange how things in the offing, once they’re sensed,
    Convert to things foreknown;
    And how what’s come upon its manifest

    Only in light of what has been gone through.
    Seventh heaven may be
    The whole truth of a sixth sense come to pass.”

    Seamus Heaney

    • Oh, thank you for sharing that! That’s just lovely.

      And thank you for reading and commenting! It’s really wonderful to see the responses and likes from other people who appreciate poetry.

      Leigh Anne

  4. Pingback: #30x30Poetry: Day 4 – Mother | Two Voices, One Song

  5. Pingback: April A to Z: H is for Heaney | silence cunning exile ... maple syrup

  6. Alize

    Once upon a time, I hated poetry. couldn’t understand the underlying meanings of what I read. But today, I have a growing passion for poetry, this came about after exploring a course in my degree programme- children s literature, and as much as I couldn’t stand poetry, I realized that I had loved lullabies and nursery rhymes which I came to understand were all different forms of poetry. I love reading any kind of poetry now, through different rhythms, styles and expression of feelings you can tell that poetry tells a story behind every verse.

    • Alize, what a wonderful story! Thank you for taking the time to share it – I’m so glad you found your way into poetry – there really is so much out there, a little something for everybody…

      Leigh Anne

  7. Alize

    Reblogged this on Innovative Libraries and commented:
    Once upon a time, I hated poetry. couldn’t understand the underlying meanings of what I read. But today, I have a growing passion for poetry, this came about after exploring a course in my degree programme- children s literature, and as much as I couldn’t stand poetry, I realized that I had loved lullabies and nursery rhymes which I came to understand were all different forms of poetry. I love reading any kind of poetry now, through different rhythms, styles and expression of feelings you can tell that poetry tells a story behind every verse.

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