Did you know April is National Poetry Month? That time of year when we stop for a moment and think about poetry, something most of us don't do. We think "Huh. Poetry. Yeah, I've read some." or "Poetry...yeesh. No thanks." or even "Pretentious poets. I'll go listen to Radio K instead."
I have been called a poet; sometimes I think I am, and I can be heard mumbling any of these on any given day.
The truth is, I find better poetry in the songs I hear on college radio than in the books of so-called popular poetry. Popular poetry seems so desparate in its attempt to be considered important or Poetic (in Zapf Chancery script) that it loses the balance needed to be...well, needed. It's like a friend who actually does pretty cool things, but is overshadowed by his incessant need to tell everyone that he does cool things, that he thinks deeply...a LOT.
This is what usually comes to mind when April rolls around.
But this year I'm trying something different. While I refuse to ignore the less palatable parts, I'm going to look on the sunny side. I'm going to look for what's good about poetry. I'm going to pitch in and try to do my part.
I was tapped at my place of employ, The Minnesota Humanities Center, to post on their blog on poetry for the month of April. Once a week I'll post something on some aspect of poetry, giving proper nods to the locals, in hopes of helping others get past the stereotypes (which are, indeed, rooted in reality) and find something about poetry that connects with them. The first post went up last week: http://blog.minnesotahumanities.org/2009/04/02/poetry-month-with-humanities-guest-blogger-michael-gause/. I encourage you to read it and leave a comment about what poetry means to you, about how you plan to celebrate National Poetry Month, or just about how you think its cool that your local humanities organization is featuring poetry on its blog. The second post should go up before week's end. Feel free to comment on all posts. If there is enough reaction, I may just get to keep doing it.
As the weather warms, let's take off our coats and do some stretches. Let's make things happen we've talked about forever. Let's do things we can raise a glass to this winter, when we're huddled around fires cursing the weather through chattering teeth.
Let's at least be smiling through them.