Saturday, April 6, 2013


April is Poetry Appreciation Month.
We writers need attention drawn to words written in poetic form more than mothers need Mother’s Day. So poets get a month. It has been said by someone, probably a poet, that the only people who buy poetry are other poets. Whereas the only people who do not pay attention to Mother’s Day either no longer have one or experience some reserve about their own mother. And florists, Hallmark, Macy’s advertise for weeks attracting you to purchase a remembrance for your mother from their supply. Where is their display of “send a card to your favorite poet”?
The“whys” for our lack of appreciation for poetry are varied. Struggling in eighth grade English class with poems that made no sense to a hormone-riddled mind may be one explanation. In high school we were forced to memorize poetry which required effort. There was no winging your way through the test. You either had done the repetitive work or not.
Partially the fault lies with poets who become so entangled in their words and imagery they forget their audience. Academia seeking to justify its existence does no endeavor any good be it Poetry or Political Science. On the other hand, if you write for a living and have mastered the sonnet or the ballad by writing hundreds of poems, creating more and more intricate designs is a necessary challenge. Few of us excel at any endeavor to be in the “reach for the stars” mode, witness my crocheting.
So allow me to share with you favorite lines from poems that are clear and appealing.
Observing my rhubarb seriously growing up this week, Jane Kenyon’s description nails what I see in her poem, “April Chores”.
Like a mad red brain the involute rhubarb leaf thinks its way up through the loam.
Involute was a new word for me and it means whorled, curved within itself. Perfect description of new rhubarb leaves.
New poems are being written in full sentences, experimenting with full margin-to-margin lines rather than raggedy phrases pushed around the page. For those of you living in climates that are slow to warm up this year, you may appreciate Jim Harrison’s associations with a late Spring. (I heard a rumor that Pennsylvania has incarcerated the rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, because he predicted Spring would arrive in March. He was incorrect.)

Here is part of Jim Harrison’s poem, Spring.
Something new in the air today, perhaps the struggle of the bud
to become a leaf. Nearly two weeks late it invaded the air but
then what is two weeks to life herself? On a cool night there is
a break from the struggle of becoming. I suppose that’s why we

If you think you might want to participate in Poetry Appreciation Month you can buy or check out of your library Jim Harrison’s book, Songs of Unreason, printed by Copper Canyon Press, 2011. Jane Kenyon’s book is Collected Poems. Graywolf Press, 2005.

Do you have a favorite poem that lifts your spirits?


1 comment:

  1. Hi Maxine, one poem I especially like is by Billie Collins, "The Lanyard." It's about how the author, as a kid, made a lanyard for his mother during a crafts class at a summer camp. It was an item she never used. Thanks for an interesting post. I'm looking forward to reading more.