NATIONAL POETRY MONTH CELEBRATES ITS 25TH YEAR

Today I received my newsletter from The Academy of American Poets in the mail. Some of the more interesting points were as follows:

“Twenty-five years ago in April of 1996, it was Academy of American Poets members who provided the initial seed money for us to announce and carry out National Poetry Month for the first time…

Over the years, our annual celebration of poets and poetry has been recognized in The New York Times, USA Today, Time, The Washington Post, People magazine , and thousands of other publications…

…the month of April has become by far the most important time of year for the release of new poetry…and sales of poetry by recognized authors and new poets alike [increase].

…events numbering in the hundreds of thousands have taken place–no exaggeration–at libraries, community centers, places of worship, at parks, town squares…all aimed at bringing poetry into the lives of local citizens and fostering a greater appreciation for beloved poets of the past as well as today’s new voices.”

The organization sent me a National Poetry Month poster, and they will be sending weekly lesson plans to 35,000 teachers nationwide. Other online programs, readings, and celebrations will be held as well.

I plan to celebrate National Poetry month with a poetry contest in my Advanced Writing class and to personally read a new poem each day of the month. Let me share today’s with you. This is from Margaret Atwood’s Dearly, her latest collection of poems:

“Ghost Cat”

“Cats suffer from dementia too. Did you know that?

Ours did. Not the black one, smart enough

to be neurotic and evade the vet.

The other one, the furrier’s muff, the piece of fluff.

She’d writhe around on the sidewalk

for chance pedestrians , whisker

their trousers, though not enough when she started losing

what might have been her mind. She’d prowl the night

kitchen, taking a bite

from a tomato, a ripe peach there,

a crumpet, a softening pear.

Is this what I’m supposed to eat?

Guess not, but where?

Then up the stairs she’d come, moth-footed,

owl-eyed, wailing

like a tiny, fuzzy steam train: Ar-woo! Ar-woo!

So witless and erased. O who?

Clawing at the bedroom door

shut tight against her. Let me in,

enclose me, tell me who I was.

No good. No purring. No contentment, Out

into the darkened dining room,

then in, then out forlorn.

And when I go that way, grow fur, start howling,

scratch at your airwaves:

no matter who I claim I am

or how I love you,

turn the key. Bar the window.”

Margaret Atwood’s voice is a strong one in her poems. Often her “messages” or thoughts are not what we expect, but she is always unique, a voice to be heard. Thanks to my friend, Mary Allen, who gave me a signed copy of this 2020 collection of Atwood poems. I hope to read the entire collection this month to celebrate National Poetry Month, 2021.

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

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