Sunday, April 30, 2006

National Poetry Month

On this last day of National Poetry Month, Poetry Super Highway has something special for you. Beginning at midnight EST, you may download any of 70 e-books as part of the Great Poetry E-Book Free-for-All. There will be a link on the front page of Poetry Super Highway that will lead you to the e-books.

Also, Billy the Blogging Poet is in charge of the 2nd Annual Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere election. Here is a list of nominees, and you may vote here.

This is also a good time to remind everyone that Billy the Blogging Poet has a very nice children's' poetry site,

Speaking of children...most of us were first introduced to poetry as children. Nursery rhymes, jump rope rhymes, and street chants and burned into our minds forever. That is how we learn the rhythm of words. I remember this rhyme and this rhyme. Most of us were also required to memorize some poems in school. I do not recall which ones I was told to memorize, however.

Little children are introduced to poetry through rhyme because rhyme is pleasing to the ear and easy to memorize. I am searching my memory for poems I was required to study as an adolescent and college student, and the one that comes to mind immediately is Matthew Arnold's "To Marguerite: Continued." I had an English professor with a rich, deep voice, and he read it to us aloud. It remains a poem of which I am especially fond. Most of us also studied Arnold's "Dover Beach," too. And the famous rondeau, "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrae.

I recall being excited when I first discovered Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W.H. Auden, and Robert Frost. Once, at some type of leadership conference, I was involved in a group reading of Carl Sandburg's poetry. It was actually more like performance art (a term I did not know at the time).

In the 80's, I wrote a poem for the first time in my life. I no longer have it, but I recall that it was a decent poem. I then fell back into my belief that I was not capable of writing poetry, and I remained there until the turn of the century, at which time I took a brief poetry-writing course to get me started. I now concentrate more on poetry than I do short fiction and essays, although that situation is likely to change, as I tend to go throuh phases with my writing. I enjoy writing in both free verse and forms, though I find formal poetry more difficult to write.


As a child, Robert Frost delighted my ear. And the silliness of Ogden Nash and Dr. Seuss was great alliteration.

As a mood-inspired teen, I wrote poetry that was bright, dark, rhyming, free-verse, all about the perils of the world or of the highs and lows of love. It was e.e.cummings that drew my affection.

Then I stopped. I was too busy with family and survival. I'd occasionally toss off a poem, but it was extremely infrequent, lacking formality, motivated entirely of moments I'd slow down long enough to hear the muse.

In my forties, my love for it was reignited, but now it was from learning about the lives of poets. And the breadth of my tastes knew no bounds: Millay, Nin, Havel, numerous poet laureates, international poets, Gary Snyder, Auden, hundreds of them, including the hard-living Charles Bukowski.

The word is a living organism. It lives, grows, illuminates, blooms and wilts in our ears, souls and pens. Poetry and song and love display words at their pinnacles, even when we lose or grieve.

We are lucky to have their magic. They are the connective tissue between us and civilization.

By Anonymous KevinHayden, at 3:53 PM  

Thanks for promoting the cause. -Billy

By Blogger Billy Jones, at 6:07 PM  

Nice blurb, Diane... there are a whole bunch of blog poets who're sure to appreciate the traffic you provide. Nice job...

By Anonymous broncobob, at 7:18 PM  

Thanks for the points to the goods. National Poetry Month may end tonight, but at The Heretik World Poetry Year will continue.

By Anonymous The Heretik, at 10:22 PM  

You are all so welcome.

By Blogger Diane, at 10:35 PM  

When my children were babies I read nursery rhymes to them, not to infuse them with a love of poetry but because they just tripped off my tongue so easily it was relaxing for me to read. My youngest daughter is a fantastic poet, though she doesn't write much poetry anymore.

I also found reading African American children's authors easy too, since my Southern voice is still quite strong despite being hidden underneath the androgynous midwest tones.

By Anonymous KathyF, at 2:48 AM  

Before my seven-year-old grandson could say words, he kept time to the nursery ryhmes that I recited to him. He remembers them too, I know because every once in a while, I'll be singing a little song to the baby and he'll cuddle up to me and say, "remember when you used to sing those to me." My first poem, well the first one that I had to memorize was Frost's "Whose Woods These ARe" and I am translating it into Latin for a class assingment. Sounds different being read in elgae couplets. I know I mispelled Elgiae, see anothe new spelling. The other poems were psalms. Yep, that's what Southern schools made us learn.
I love poetry and wish I could write it, but I just can't make it work.

By Blogger zelda1, at 6:52 AM  

Members of a poetry forum I sometimes visit have been sharing childhood chants. Many of them I had heard; a few I hadn't. The ones I included, from south Louisiana, are quite different and I doubt if anyone has heard them.

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