Did you know that April is National Fresh Celery Month? I don’t have much more to say about that, but I do want to point your attention to another month long celebration in April, National Poetry Month. Back in 1996 the Academy of American Poets thought it might be nice to celebrate poetry for a whole month and I couldn’t agree more.
Poetry has always been a part of my literary diet since my mother read me my first Shel Silverstein poem. I still have a few of those memorized and have, on more than one occasion, recited My Hobby at a party. Because nothing impresses people more than a grown woman talking about spitting from the 26th floor.
In High School I gravitated towards e.e. cummings, in college I devoured poems by Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Robert Bly.
I sometimes think in verse, it’s easier to be obtuse about your feelings when they’re wrapped up in symbolism or an elegy. I don’t write much of it down and maybe I should, but just the practice of thinking in incomplete sentences and embracing a rhythm that ticks off the words to a beat brings me solace.
Poetry doesn’t have to be hard or confusing, though in school it always felt like we were blindly reaching for meaning in the span of a few words, trying to glean what the poet meant by gobbledygoo, Fields of Gazing Grain, the bruising darkness, The honeycomb at night has strange dreams.
Sometimes my dreams only make sense if I frame them within a poem, let them sit in their weirdness of time and space, how one event doesn’t seem to lead to the other. I can analyze their meaning if I let my mind hover over a detail that seems out of place, and then trace it back to the conversation I had earlier, as if a foreign language written out has been translated in real time as I look at the words.
This is all just to say that this month, and every month, is a great time to read poetry and look for meaning in words that seem strange and lovely.