The Idea of Order in Poetry Month

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it!

For April is Poetry Month, I posted on my Facebook page one poem a day, for each day in April. Because of the attention-deficit nature of Facebook participants (I include myself), I included only a fragment of the poem, with the idealistic hope that particularly motivated readers would seek out the full poem for savoring. There is this device called Google. And, for now at least, there are still books.

This was the order I imposed on April.

Since April is National Poetry Month, for the nation of the United States, I leaned where possible to American poets — 26 out of 29. (The final post directed Facebook readers to this blog post.) I count T.S. Eliot as half-American because he was born and raised in St. Louis and didn’t become a British citizen until he was 39. Other British-American hybrids, but in the other direction (grew up there, moved here) are Judith Barrington and Denise Levertov. I included St. Louis poets because St. Louis is a city of poets. Also, I am from there. As are T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Joseph Stanton, Sara Teasdale, and Maya Angelou.

All poems were originally written in English. I favored contemporary poets, and when possible, living poets (who could benefit from your patronage). In the spirit of VIDA, I tried to ensure a gender balance (15 women, 14 men!) I leaned toward poems about poetry, writing or other art forms; I figured that was more user-friendly and conducive to the theme. For special days (e.g., the anniversary of the Civil War, Shakespeare’s birthday, Good Friday), I went with the best pertinent fragment. For birthdays, I let the birthday girl have her pick. And yes, I threw in a few poets because in addition to being gifted, entertaining, generous souls, they are also pals (Judith Barrington, Matthew Olzmann, Joseph Stanton.) The full list follows with the key:
A = American
M = Modern
C = Contemporary
In bold face – alive and writing. Google them! Buy their books, go see them at readings!

Maya Angelou – A, C – Phenomenal Woman
Judith Barrington – ½ A, C – The Musicians’ Seamounts
Charles Bukowski – A, M – So you want to be a writer
Billy Collins – A, C – The Norton Anthology of English Literature
e.e. cummings – A, M – somewhere I have never travelled
Emily Dickinson — A — Hope
Stephen Dunn – A, C – Charlotte Bronte in Leeds Point
Lynn Emmanuel – A, C — The Politics of Narrative: Why I am a Poet
T.S. Eliot – ½ A, M – The Waste Land
Deborah Garrison – A, C – A Working Girl Can’t Win
Jonathan Holden – A, C – How to Play Night Baseball
Marie Howe – A, C – The Moment
Clive James – C, L – Whitman and the Moth
Julia Spicher Kasdorf – A, C – First Gestures
Denise Levertov — ½ A, C – Come Into Animal Presence
Thomas Lynch – A, C – Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets
Heather McHugh – A, C – A Ghazal for the Better-Unbegun
Marianne Moore – A, M – Poetry
Matthew Olzmann – A, C – Previous Theories of the Body
Dorothy Parker – A, M — Comment
Kay Ryan – A, C — quote from her interview in the Wall Street Journal, regarding poetry, as the Pulitzer winner this year
Christina Georgina Rossetti – Good Friday
Joseph Stanton – A, C – Vermeer’s “A Woman Weighing Gold”
Mark Strand – A, C – Eating Poetry
Mary Jo Salter – A, C – John Lennon
Sara Teasdale – A, M – Advice to a Girl
William Shakespeare – Sonnet 7
Walt Whitman – A – The Uprising
Paul Zarzyski — A, C – Matched Pairs

What are your favorites?  Let me know.  And I’ll see you on Facebook next April.

Originally published Saturday, April 30, 2011

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