Friday, April 1, 2011

Celebrate National Poetry Month!

In her poem, “A Word with You”, Elizabeth Bishop observes that “Bright objects hypnotize the mind.” When our glittery public discourse becomes addled or trivial or shrill, it’s a relief to spend time under the spell of well placed words, genuine feelings, and vivid images. Welcome to National Poetry Month, our annual respite and reminder to share and celebrate the uniquely human art of poetry!

Poems are not puzzles to solve or riddles to answer. Each poem combines words, images, and emotions, all deployed at maximum power, designed to reveal a moment and reverberate beyond it. A good poem articulates something its reader hasn’t been able to express. Some of the pleasure of reading poetry is the relief of this discovery: someone has said what, before we found this poem, we weren’t able to say ourselves.

The ABC Libraries Poetry Page offers many opportunities for both readers and writers to play among the poems, and as always, we have books! I highly recommend:

--Gwendolyn Brooks’s Selected Poems: The poet who brought you “We Real Cool” does the most amazing things with words.

--Garrison Keillor’s compilations Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. Keillor’s collections mix wonderful contemporary poems with wonderfully familiar poems from centuries past. Either is a great introductory anthology for the reluctant poetry reader.

--Ron Koertge’s The Brimstone Journals: this story-in-poems for young adults builds suspense as high school students react to potentially explosive pressures in their lives.

The following titles can be found in the children’s collection, but I recommend them for adults, too. There are delightful poems in all of these for adults and kids to share:

--Tomie dePaola’s Book of Poems: dePaola’s illustrations complement the selections beautifully.

--A Child’s Anthology of Poetry, edited by Elizabeth Hague Sword and Virginia McCarthy: the scope and variety of the poems in this collection keep me coming back to it again and again.

and finally,

Ogden Nash’s Custard the Dragon is the tale of a cowardly dragon. Or is it? Seriously silly.

If you’re already a poetry fan, April is your month to wallow in what you love. If you’re tentative about poetry, it’s a chance to explore, to find a poet or a poem that speaks to you, that you can return to again and again when you need some good company. Also check out our Poetry Month LibGuide for tips on writing poetry, poetry events @ your library, & more!

Written by Eileen O'Connell of the San Pedro Library staff.

1 comment:

Cagedbird said...


Different sizes, shapes, and colors
yet, we have some of the same problems.
Male problems, children problems,
mood swings, mental and physical problems,
you name them, we have them.
We comfort each other, we get on each other's nerves.
Sistahs assisting Sistahs, who are like us?
You give me your shoulder to cry on,
I give you my helping hands.
You give me advice and strength,
I give you a listening ear.
I give you my love and support,
you give me your...

© 2011 Eve Hall