Thanks for visiting. We aren't actively blogging here anymore. Please visit us on our new site.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Get your Random Acts of Poetry Here!

"April showers bring May flowers." "April is the cruellest month." "April is a promise that May is bound to keep." Poor April, condemned merely to be the dour waiting maid of May! Seems like she deserves better - after all, she has inspired so many lyrical musings. Fitting, then, that since 1996, April has also been honored with the title National Poetry Month. Better still, she was not honored thusly by some cold-hearted governmental body or stiffly starched academia, but by those tireless romantics, the poets themselves - namely, The Academy of American Poets.

Why a "National Poetry Month?" I'll quote from the source (the Academy of American Poets, that is):

The concept was to increase the attention paid-by individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage, and to poetry books and magazines. In the end, we hoped to achieve an increase in the visibility, presence, and accessibility of poetry in our culture. National Poetry Month has been successful beyond all anticipation and has grown over the years into the largest literary celebration in the world.
Really, why not a National Poetry Month? There was a time when children memorized dozens of poems in school, when adults read poems to each other as entertainment, when noblemen patronized poets in the hopes that their already-famous names might be attached to a particular stellar work of art. Poetry was as hip as hip hop is today - so when did it become a fussy remnant of the past? Truly, if one takes the time to look, there's a poem for everyone. Some may still prefer one of Shakespeare's perfectly symmetrical sonnets, others may delight in the glorious natural imagery of the Old Testament Book of Psalms. On the other hand, the oh-so-clever rhymes and brutal honesty of Eminem's works may be the only poetry another listener has ever experienced and that's just fine. A school-aged child may giggle at the nonsensical verse of Dr. Seuss, while the lifelong learner continues to find deep meaning in classic poets such as W.B Yeats, T.S Eliot, W.H. Auden, W.S. Merwin - wait a minute, aren't there any poets with first names?

Kidding - just trying to see if you were still paying attention. I named those particular poets because they are amongst my favorites, but I consider myself lucky: I've been a big fan of poetry for many years. I love a sonnet, love an elegant snapshot of life captured in uncanny detail, love a poem that's edgy and exotic. Being a musician, there are few things I appreciate more than a great, poetic lyric wedded to an extraordinary melody. Some of my favorite poems? "Listen" by Merwin, "The Beautiful Changes" by Richard Wilbur, "Easter 1916" and "Sailing to Byzantium" by Yeats (the latter recently quoted in a popular movie title - know which one it is?), "Musee des Beaux Arts" by Auden, and so many songs I couldn't attempt to list them here. Songwriters who consistently hit a poetic mark, in my opinion, include Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Justin Currie and Kate Bush. Do you have a favorite poem or poetic song lyric? Click on the "Comments" link and post your favorites here to share them with all of our readers. (Remember - you can always post anonymously, or sign up for a free Blogger account.)

Now - I promised you some Random Acts of Poetry. Beginning on Tuesday, April 1, 2008, you'll find a number of ways to experience "Random Acts of Poetry" at the Des Plaines Public Library. Let's just say that quotes from poems will pop up in unexpected places, giving you a poetic interlude in the middle of an otherwise typical day. You'll find these Random Acts in the library building and on our Web site, thanks to Adult Services Librarian Steven Giese. Our hope? That National Poetry Month inspires you with the power, creativity and beauty of words, not just for a month, but for a lifetime. Want to browse through our collection of poetry books and related materials? Click on this link and look for something that strikes your fancy. We not only have poetry in English for children and adults, but a wide variety of poetry books in other languages, too.

Oh, yes - "April Showers Bring May Flowers" seems to be derived from an original quote by one Thomas Tusser, written in 1557! "April is the cruellest month" sprang from the mind of T.S. Eliot and into his masterpiece, "The Waste Land." And
"April is a promise that May is bound to keep" is from Hal Borland's book, "The Sundial of the Seasons."


  1. Here is a favorite poem of mine.

    First Fig by Edna St.Vincent Millay

    My candle burns at both ends;
    It will not last the night;
    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
    It gives a lovely light.

  2. I just can from the library and really enjoyed the random acts of poetry. Very clever!

  3. This is a late addition but I thought I'd share my favorite poem. I discovered it in the Ray Bradbury short story of the same name.

    There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pool singing at night,
    And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

    Robins will wear their feathery fire,
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
    If mankind perished utterly;

    And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.


Please feel free to post your comments and thoughts. We love to hear from you.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.