Tag Archive | National Poetry Month

Week Two

It’s week two of National Poetry Month and wow, it’s already been a great time of reading and listening to great poetry. I had the extreme pleasure of attending the book launch for Voices from the Block:  A Legacy of African-American Literature last weekend and enjoyed two entertaining spoken word poets. I also had a super time at the Writer’s Reception, sponsored by the Texas Writers Journal. I read poems, met new authors, and learned more about the Texas Writers Journal’s updated and expanded literary journal.  And the fun continues in a few days when I attend Poetry Out Loud at Lucky Dog Books in Dallas (Oak Cliff). I am eagerly awaiting that event, but until that date arrives, I am content to get my poetry fix from reading (in some cases, re-reading) presidential inauguration poems.

If you watched or listened to the United States presidential inaugurations for President Barack Obama (2009 and 2013), you know that a poet participated in the swearing-in ceremonies. Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco are the two poets who stood at the podium before the nation sharing their words of hope, history and unity. They joined a short list of poets who either wrote a poem specific to the occasion and/or recited a previously written work to honor the incoming president. Other poets on the list include Robert Frost, who was the first to kick off the tradition in 1961 (John F. Kennedy), Maya Angelou (William Clinton), James Dickey (Jimmy Carter), and Miller Williams (Clinton).

Many of the presidential inauguration poems have been published (or re-published) as a solo piece in a gift book edition which includes beautiful leather binding and specially crafted paper. In honor of National Poetry Month, I encourage you to scour your local bookstore or resale shop for these editions. They make for special reading and are a nice collector’s item. The titles to look for are:

The Gift Outright – Frost

The Strength of Fields – Dickey

On the Pulse of Morning – Angelou

Of History and Hope – Williams

Praise Song for the Day, Praise Song for Struggle – Alexander

One Today – Blanco

Until next week, happy poetry reading and writing!

Happy National Poetry Month

I’m a little behind in sharing my well wishes for an extraordinary and exciting poetry month. There are many events and programs planned throughout the month of April which will highlight the gift of poetry and its importance to humanity. I, too, am planning to shine the light on poetry through my weekly blog posts. In my posts, I’ll focus on the poet laureate position, presidential inauguration poems, poems as songs, and poetry giants. So without further ado, my first nod to National Poetry Month…

When I first heard the title Poet Laureate I was intrigued. I had just learned that Gwendolyn Brooks, a Black woman, like me, had been appointed poet laureate for the United States. I was so proud but also ignorant. What the heck is a poet laureate? I wondered. What do they do? I don’t remember what life event was going on at the time that prevented me from researching answers to my questions, but here it is years later and I now have the answers.

First, poet laureate is an appointed position. The Librarian of Congress selects a status poet to the position. A status poet is one who has published a collection(s) of poems, has achieved some level of recognition for their work, has probably won awards for their writings, and is involved in promoting the art of poetry, and more.

Second, the position’s length of term is one year but some terms have been extended at the pleasure of the librarian such as with the current poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey. While in the position, the poet laureate is responsible for pushing the agenda of poetry. It is up to the poet laureate to determine how this is achieved but most conduct readings, lecture, host literary events, conduct radio and TV interviews and programs, compose poems for the nation, etc.

Third, there is not only a poet laureate for the United States but also for each state. Well, for many of the states; a few states do not have a poet laureate position. Responsibilities and requirements at the state level may differ from the national role.

NTrethewey

Trethewey, our current United States Poet Laureate claims Mississippi as her home state. She is the author of four books, one of which Native Guard won the Pulitzer Prize. Her work tends to focus on history, tragedy and mixed race issues; all subjects that have touched and therefore shaped her life. Below is a list of her other titles:

Domestic Work

Beyond Katrina

Bellocq’s Ophelia

Thrall

This April during National Poetry Month, I encourage you to take some time to check out one of her books. Her words will move you beyond belief.

Until next week, happy reading and writing of poetry.

(Photo copyright Jon Rou)

It’s A Wrap!

Today marks the end of National Poetry Month. I hope you enjoyed reading “One Poet, One Line” (OPOL), the post on April 2, 2013 that introduced one local or regional poet and one line from one of their treasured poems. OPOL was my way of showcasing a talented group of poets and sharing a tiny bit of their work. To wrap up National Poetry Month, I thought it appropriate to list the titles of their collections in case you’re interested in reading more of their works or purchasing a copy of their books. I certainly enjoy their talent; I hope you did too!

Soulful Storm by Che’
Dream Children by Herman Wilson II
A Legacy of African American Literature, presented by the Writer’s Block – Doris House Rice
Feel Like Shoutin’ by Evelyn Dees Kelly
Sapphires and Satin by Lisa Brown Ross
Poetry of Relativity by Pari Danian
Sounds of Silence by Irene P. Zucker
Untitled by Pam Fields
Fruits of the Soul by Le’Juana Searcy
I Send You Light by Martha Switzer
One Less Road to Travel by Nichole Shields
Poems from the Fast by Jeanetta Britt
Dubious & Darling by Hugh Mitchell Bouvier
Cockroach Children: corner poems and street psalms by Quraysh Ali
Becoming by Sharon Jones-Scaife
Come Into Our Whirl a collection featuring Katherine “Kat” Smith and others
Love After Dark by Rudy V
Poetic Rhythms for Life’s Moods by Gary L. Hawthorne
Renaissance of the Soul by Lois Snell
Words of My Soul by September

Welcome to National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and to celebrate both poets and poetry, I pulled from my bookshelves some of my favorite local or regional poets’ volumes of poetry to share with you. You may not have heard of some of these poets because many do not have the notoriety of Sonia Sanchez or Nikki Giovanni. But in the southwest region, they are loved. So I present to you (drum roll please) “One Poet — One Line,” poets and one line from one of their treasured poems. Enjoy!

My hair has many blues like inner city streets, yet it thrives like ghetto hymns, never facing defeat” —Che’

“I am that which is good and positive tempered with my own humanity” — Herman Wilson II

“Down in the dumps is not my home Good-bye old friend; I’m moving on” — Doris House Rice

“Death came to remind me that earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal” — Evelyn Dees Kelly

“With strings and borrowed trumpets their genius reigned despite denial, bringing the world jazz” — Lisa Brown Ross

“The forecast in my eyes is rain pouring, from seeing the blue oceans through the lens of past happy days” —Pari Danian

“Life is a canvas waiting to be painted by the colors of our own choosing” — Irene P. Zucker

“Thank God it’s not just me, or eventually I would fall” — Pam Fields

“The beauty of giving Is to give from the heart” — Le’Juana Searcy

“Set your Self and your Spirit free; Give your Self permission just to ‘be'” — Martha Switzer

“If my tears can wash away your ignorance, I’ll cry you a river!” — Nichole L. Shields

“It’s past time We live past our feelings…Put aside our petty differences Reach out to each other in love.” — Jeanetta Britt

“With each morning comes a new day – a new chance to make peace with the world and all its people.” — Hugh M. Bouvier

“Pain wore her face like a road map…” — Quraysh Ali

“Put faith before doubt. For everything in life will work out.” — Sharon Jones-Scaife

“I am of no color For in many eyes I do not exist” — Katherine Smith

“How ya livin’, depends on the choices you make, how ya livin’, depends on what you ask for when you pray.” —Rudy V