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April Is The Cruellest Month……..

April 1, 2008

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

From the “The Burial of the Dead,” the first part of T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land.

Welcome to April; National Poetry Month, where the most under appreciated and least read of the written word gets its due; if only for a short while.

The Academy of American Poets
at has come up with 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month. A few are included here:

Read a book of poetry
“Poetry is a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right.”

Put poetry in an unexpected place
“Books should be brought to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities.”

Play Exquisite Corpse

“Each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a surprising–sometimes absurd–yet often beautiful poem.”

Google a poem

“Many people carry single lines of verse with them, sometimes for years, and are eager to remember the rest of that particular poem.”

Put a poem on the pavement
“Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk.”

Add verse to your email signature
“Many email programs allow you to create personalized signatures that are automatically added to the end of every email you send.”

Poetry is a great love of mine and this morning, being the first day of National Poetry Month, I was drawn to my over-stuffed bookshelves; as I began running my hand over poetry books, stopping at favorites along the way and flipping through pages of old loves, I thought I’d share some with you (in no particular order):

John Milton
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Andrew Marvell
John Keats
William Wordsworth
Pablo Neruda
W. H. Auden
William Carlos Williams
Elizabeth Bishop
Robert Hass
Robert Pinsky
Naomi Shilab Nye
Gwendolyn Brooks
Joseph Brodsky
Ted Kooser
Stanley Kunitz
Karl Shapiro
Sharon Olds
Grace Paley
Mark Strand
Charles Simic (the current US Poet Laureate)
Mary Oliver
Donald Hall
Jane Kenyon
Pattiann Rogers
Louise Glück
Nikki Giovanni
Sandra Cisneros

When I started this list, I thought there’d be a handful of writers; but as I was mentally listing my favorites, I realized how many had to be included. And am sure there’ll be more, which I’ll add as they come to mind.

Happy reading! (And listening.)

Copyright © 2008

Poetry Reading: Ted Kooser. (Poet Laureate 2004-2006)

Poetry Reading: Donald Hall. (Poet Laureate 2006-2007)

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