Friday, April 14, 2006

Take a Poet to Lunch

I don't know why The Academy of American Poets doesn't add this tenet to the whole constitution of National Poetry Month.

Poets, do you live your day-to-day lives as a poet? Do you tell people it's National Poetry Month? What kind of responses do you get? ("Uhmmm ... No, I didn't" -- I'm sure you get a lot of that.) But after the initial bewilderment, what happens next? Do you explain what happens during the month? Do you start conversations by your water cooler or at the checkout line? Do you inspire dialogue about the meaning of the month? If people ask you, "why April?" do you have the right answer?

My small contribution to the national dialogue about National Poetry Month starts with hanging a new poem outside of my office door weekly. Someone always drops in to offer an opinion. Then the conversation leads to "I once wrote a poem." Or, "my favorite poem growing up was...." Most poets I know cringe when they hear such sophomoric conversations around the high art. But I love it. My job as a poet is to bridge the disconnect between old ideas about poetry and what's going on now. I love it when people share their favorite poems, because they are sharing a part of themselves.

So, how do you celebrate National Poetry Month? Do you write a poem a day? Do you read poetry or attend readings. Do you participate in open mics and slams? How's that working for you? Tell me about it.

Poets, get your coworkers to take you to lunch. We are a special breed and need to be celebrated and revered.


Anonymous said...

Ooh! What a great idea--to take a poet to lunch and celebrate. I love that you hang poems outside your door and encourage dialogue. It's so important to get thinking and talking about literature--what they can connect to, what they love/hate, etc.

My favorite poem? hmmm. I'm an e.e. cummings fan, so "maggie and millie and molly and may" is one of my all-time faves. And I love William Carlos Williams. And Anne Sexton. And... -Erin

Amasa said...

Hm. Interesting thought ... I think I'll start introducing myself more often as writer/artist/poet and less often as "mom" and see what I get. I wonder a lot what kind of dreams and self-definitions lurk underneath the spit-up stains of the other moms I meet - maybe I'll find some out if I'm more open about my own.

Favorite poets? I'm an old-fashioned girl - Coleridge, Shelley, Poe, Christina Rossetti, and slightly more modern (only slightly!), Frost, Auden, Yeats, Edgar Lee Masters, Dorothy Parker. Favorite poem is harder - there are so many. "The Stolen Child," Yeats, comes to mind, and a poem called "The Rain," by Robert Creeley, which ends in the glorious line "Be wet with a decent happiness." Indeed.


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