April is, as I’m sure you are all aware, National Poetry Month! And to celebrate I thought I would share some poetry with you.
But let’s be perfectly clear, not my own.
I once wrote poetry. Long lilting things full of romance and rhymes and alliteration. They were epic. They were heartfelt. They were god awful. I was in my early twenties and full of bluster, my head filled with Yeats and Rimbaud and Dylan (both Thomas and Bob). So I thought I could just belt out a few rhymes describing my “pain” and “yearning” and call myself a poet. Turns out its much harder to do than that and takes “talent” and “craftsmanship” both of which I was lacking in abundance in my early twenties.
I still have some of those poems in a notebook I keep locked in a closet. I keep them around as a warning to myself. Whenever I have a notion to write a poem I open that notebook and read; my poetic aspirations are quickly dispelled and I move on to more productive endeavors and the world is spared from having to endure horrible couplets.
Side note: Horrible Couplets would make a great name for a punk band.
An interesting bit of trivia I have learned from experience: Saying you are a poet is a great opening line when trying to talk a girl in a cafe over a cappuccino. However, saying you are a poet is a terrible opening line when trying to talk a girl in a honky-tonk over a Budweiser. Make of that what you will.
One thing did come from my attempt at poetry back then, I read a lot of poetry. Classical, romantic, modern, spiritual and beat; war-time poets and hippies, surreal and symbolic and pastoral, and the occasional limerick. I fell in love with the way words were constructed, the way their meaning was changed or enhanced by the way they were juxtaposed on the page. The simple beauty of a phrase. The loveliness of a rhyme. How a single line could make you weep.
The funny thing is even though I am not a very good poet, studying poetry has made me a better writer. I’ve learned to condense my storytelling and to use imagery to convey my thoughts. And of course my failure as a poet has increased my respect for actual poets. Knowing how hard it is to do something makes me appreciate those who can so much more.
So April is National Poetry Month! And I thought I would share some poetry with you. Periodically throughout the month I will be posting some poems I like and movies about poets and poetry related items. I hope you are not ad-verse to this. Oh, I may have a poetry pun or two as well.
Also, I would love to hear for you dear readers. Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Do you you have a poem of your own you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email or comment on some form of social media. You have options is what I’m saying.
I will leave you today with an excerpt from a poem from Lawrence Felinghetti: A Populist Manifesto #1
This is a free-form Beat poem that employs no rhyme or meter except in the last few lines which is what is below. The entire poem is rather lengthy so I didn’t want to put the whole thing here, but I thought this was a good poem about poetry to start out this month. It is really worth your time to read the whole thing so if you want to do so it can be found here.
Poetry the common carrier
for the transportation of the public
to higher places
than other wheels can carry it.
Poetry still falls from the skies
into our streets still open.
They haven’t put up the barricades, yet,
the streets still alive with faces,
lovely men & women still walking there,
still lovely creatures everywhere,
in the eyes of all the secret of all
still buried there,
Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there,
Awake and sing in the open air.