Sunday, April 3, 2016
NQE and National Poetry Month
This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.
For you who have never met me, I am a poet. I hate saying I'm a poet. I'm not ashamed to be one, but it seems the word is more appropriate for people who are more talented than I am. The people I look up to are poets. I am a guy who writes stuff down and passes it off as art.
I say these things because it's National Poetry Month and it should be a bigger deal among non-poets. Poetry is the life blood of everything we experience. William Shakespeare reaches out from the grave on a regular basis to influence the English language.
I know that's an extreme example of a really cool poet, but there are others and not all poets are into the same kind of poetry. Some folks like Sonnets with their rhyme schemes and Iambic Pentameter. I like that stuff, but I am more of a fan of the free verse word play insanity of the Beats. I like Jack Spicer, Lesley Heath Morrow, Shel Silverstein, Gwendolyn Brooks, Joe Roarty, Nina Corwin, Charlie Newman, Sylvia Plath John Goode, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Ann Sexton, Esteban Colon, Dana Jerman, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, and about a thousand others.
Poetry is not written by dead people. Poetry is a living breathing art form that assaults us every day. Poetic devices are used by Ad writers, newscasters, and speech writers. the language of poetics is at the core of everything we buy or accept as fact. We are manipulated by words all the time, The more beautiful the words the larger the manipulation.
Many a Confidence Man and Deadbeat Romeo have gotten their way through the manipulations of language.
I realize this puts poets in the same boat as criminals and sometimes that's true, but most times not. The fact that Poetry is only given the spotlight for one month a year is probably lip service and anyone who has ever thought that Black History Month and Women's History Month were also measures just to contain things that should be every day realities know where I'm coming from. But they don't interrupt Survivor with a celebrity talking about their love of William Burroughs or Maya Angelou.
Television doesn't want you to know about Poetry because you might start to read, you might learn to like reading, you might turn off your TV in favor of reading poetry. If you do that you'll discover that Pop Music is really just bad Poetry. You'll discover that the Rap track where the end words don't rhyme is pretty amazing. You may start to realize that they lyrics to that song stuck in your head are what got it stuck there in the first place.
I know for some of you Poetry is too Emo, but sometimes it's all you got to get you through the day.
BTW, National Poetry Month is finally important enough for The Onion to make fun of it. Follow the link to the article