Poems for National Poetry Month
We can help you prepare for Poem in a pocket day - April 26th
April showers (or in Vermont this spring - snow) bring poetry.
Since poets' words work best, instead of an official review, for each of our recommended collections of poetry, we are including one of our favorite poems (or a portion of a poem) from that collection. We hope these tastes of poetry will encourage everyone to read more poems throughout the year - not just during April's National Poetry Month celebrations in the USA. Note: "poem in your pocket day" happens April 26th; maybe one of these poems will be the one you carry that day.
Poet in Spain: Frederico Garcia Lorca, new translation by Sarah Arvio (2018) - This new translation of the work of Federico Garcia Lorca, one of the greatest poets and playwrights of the 20th Century (according to his bio), is presented in Spanish first, then in the English translation.
The day blurs in the silent fields
Bee-eaters sigh as they fly
The blue and white distance is delirious
The land has its arms thrown wide
Ay lord lord All this is too much
Wade in the Water by Tracy Smith (2018) - Our review wouldn't be complete without including the newest book by powerful woman and current Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy Smith. Her collection showcases minority American voices ranging from immigrants, to refugees, to Civil War era African-American soldiers (in the form of their letters) and shines a spotlight on these citizen's experiences. The poem we highlight opens her book and lands the reader in a moment of time in Brooklyn, New York in the 1980's, full of beautiful food, luscious words, youth, and innocence.
Garden of Eden (condensed for reasons of space, with apologies to the poet)
What a profound longing I feel, just this very instant, For the Garden of Eden On Montague Street Where I seldom shopped, Usually only after therapy, Elbow sore at the crook From a hand basket filled To capacity. The glossy pastries! Pomegranate, persimmon, quince!
Once, a bag of black, beluga Lentils split a trail behind me While I labored to find A tea they refused to carry. It was Brooklyn. My thirties.
Everyone I know was living The same desolate luxury, Each ashamed of the same things: Innocence and privacy. I'd lug Home the paper bags, doing Bank-balance math and counting days. I'd squint into it, or close my eyes And let it slam me in the face ---- The known sun setting On the dawning century.
The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy edited by John Brehm (2017). One person we know, reads a poem a day from this gorgeous book. This daily practice has enriched her year. Below is a small poem of quiet appreciation touches on several of this reviewer's biggest loves: birds, bubbling soup, and rays of sunshine,
It's All Right (condensed for reasons of space, with apologies to the poet) by William Stafford (1914-1993)
Someone you trusted has treated you bad. Someone has used you to vent their ill temper. Did you expect anything different? Your work - better than some others' - has languished, neglected. Or a job you tried was too hard, and you failed. Maybe weather or bad luck spoiled what you did. That grudge, held against you for years after you patched up, has flared, and you've lost your friend for a time. Things at home aren't so good; on the job your spirits have sunk. But just when the worst bears down you find a pretty bubble in your soup at noon, and outside at work, a bird says, "Hi!"
Slowly the sun creeps along the floor; it is coming your way. It touches your shoe.
Ron Rash Poems: New and Selected by Ron Rash (2016) - When we saw a collection of poems by the author of the Cove, we had to peruse. We found this gem among so many describing life in Appalachia.
The Country Singer Explains Her Muse (condensed for reasons of space, with apologies to the poet)
Say you're on a bus between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, pills that got you through the show slow to wear off, so you stare out the window, searching for darkened houses where you know women sleep who live a life you once lived, but now sing about.
Let them dream as you write out words and a chords to find a song made to get them through their day, get you through a sleepless night somewhere on a bus between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Bullets Into Bells: Poets and citizens respond to gun violence edited by Brian Clements (2017). This collection consists of poems by well-known and lesser-known poets, with a response to each penned by a different person affected by the particulars that poem explores. Together they are doubly powerful.
A Poem for Pulse by Jameson Fitzpatrick (an excerpt, condensed for reasons of space, with apologies to the poet)
Last night I went to a gay bar with a man I love a little. After dinner we had a drink...While I slept, a man went to a gay club with two guns and killed forty-nine people. Today in an interview, his father said he had been disturbed recently by the sight of two men kissing...
We must love one another whether or not we die. Love can't block a bullet but neither can it be shot down, and love is, for the most part, what makes us - in Orlando and in Brooklyn and in Kabul. We will be everywhere, always; there's nowhere else for us or you, to go. Anywhere you run in this world, love will be there to greet you. Around any corner, there might be two men. Kissing.
I'm Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith (2018) - Very fun poems, with funny illustrations for kids, including... The Secret of My Art
"It's a beautiful whale", my teacher declared. "This drawing will get a gold star!"
"It's a beautiful whale", my father declared. "Your talents will carry you far!"
"It's a beautiful whale", my mother declared. "What a wonderful artist you are!"
Well, maybe it is a beautiful whale... But I was trying to draw a guitar.
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