If writers were musicians, poets would not be the rock stars, the pop icons or the members of the symphony orchestra. In fact I doubt they'd even rate as mainstream among readers as jazz does among listeners. They're pretty much to writing what indie bands are to music - autonomous, little known, more focused on producing their content than becoming wealthy or famous.
Despite the generally cold shoulder of readers, we poets keep writing anyway because we love poetry and get some kind of strange fulfillment producing more of it (droll Billy Collins says it so well).
April is National Poetry month in Canada and the U.S. It's a time when poetry organizations of all kinds celebrate their particular brand of writing with readings, displays, contests, and book sales -- a month we poet odd-balls will be filling the airwaves with our strange music, from haunting to humorous. On this March 31st eve of National Poetry Month, I'm inviting you to join the celebration. You might just find that you enjoy these strains more than you ever thought you would. Some suggestions:
- Subscribe to a daily email poem. The Writer's Almanac with its entertaining, easy-to-understand poems read by Garrison Keillor is an excellent choice.
- Every day in April read a new and previously unpublished children's poem on this blog. Poets include Kenn Nesbitt, Bruce Lansky, Jane Yolen, Jack Prelutsky (former Children's Poet Laureate).
- Attend a poetry reading in your community. Check the bulletin board in your local paper.
- Buy a book of poems. Some Word Guild members with poetry books for sale are Judith Lawrence, D. S. Martin, Alvin Ens, moi.
- Enter a poem you've written in a free contest. That's right. I said FREE. Check it out here.
- If you're really ambitious, write a poem a day and (maybe) get your poem included in a 50-poem ebook put out by Writer's Digest. Daily poem prompts starting April 1st here.
Finally, while I still have your attention - here's a poem. It's about why I write poetry...
I Take My Walk Just In Time
I take my walk just in time
under the frowning sky
share the green with black crows and white gulls.
They graze while I ponder should I
give it up this tinkering
with words that pilfers time
from creased shirts and dusty corners?
There’s little coin to justify
hours spent and what will be its fate
on that final bonfire-trial day?
Beside my path stands a gull so near
we could touch.
smooth pearly gray
wingtips telescoped to perfect
white dots on black.
Surely God, the original and extravagant Creator
Who thought it no waste
to paint alpine flowers
craft ocean stars
and decorate with this polka-dotted petticoat
understands the urge I feel
to build for the epiphanies of my life
little piles of words?
I turn home with lighter heart
step to subtle happy rhythms –
a woodpecker rattling her way up a finger of snacks
and on my jacket the intermittent pat pat
pat of reconnaissance raindrops.
© 2003 by Violet Nesdoly