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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

National Poetry Month - not just for scholars and schoolkids

Whenever I tell someone that I am a librarian, the standard response is a) some lame jokes about glasses, bun hairstyles and shushing; b) some even lamer jokes about cataloging my sock drawer. It's a nice opportunity to spread the word that there are all kinds of librarians doing all kinds of work. As a "Web Services" librarian, I don't wear glasses or a bun, rarely have call to shush anyone (in fact, I'm usually trying to get you readers to SAY something by posting comments!) and beyond one cataloging class in college, I have no interest in or experience with cataloging anything.

However, like many librarians, I do wear a certain amount of geekiness with pride and therefore I am delighted, nay, ecstatic to tell you about National Poetry Month. Since 1996, National Poetry Month has been celebrated every April. The recognition of National Poetry Month began with the Academy of American Poets, who have this to say about it:
National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.

I'm always a little stunned by people who bluntly announce that they "hate" poetry (and let's not get into people who don't like music...). There are so many types and styles and subjects, so to dismiss all poetry as unlikeable suggests to me a person who had one lousy English teacher in high school and can't get over it. Shakespeare's sonnets not your style? Try the New England plain-speaking of Robert Frost or Illinois's very own Carl Sandburg. Emily Dickinson too "out there" for you? Well, then don't try any Sylvia Plath, but look around. Conversely, if the classic poems you learned in school seem archaic and out of touch with your reality, then read contemporary poets like Billy Collins and Sharon Olds. If you find the creative and experimental use of language too much, then for goodness' sakes, read some poems out of a magazine, or pretty soon they won't bother to put poems in magazines. The New Yorker has wonderful poetry in every issue.

Many people say that poetry, like written drama, should be read aloud to be truly appreciated. I'm not sure if I agree with that sentiment, but nevertheless, I'm going with it this particular National Poetry Month. We will be featuring, here in PlainTalk and on the library Web site and YouTube channel, video clips of various DPPL staff members reading favorite poetry. The choices have been terrific so far and a tremendous representation of just how varied and dynamic poetry really is. To give you a sampling, I'm featuring here the first poem we taped, a classic baseball poem known as "Casey At The Bat." written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer and read here by Adult Services Librarian Bob Blanchard. (You can read more about "Casey" in another of our blogs, Positively Ellinwood Street, too)

All we are saying is, "Give poetry a chance." We think you'll like it more than you care to admit! Got a  favorite poem? Let us know by posting a comment here and we just might add it to our collection of videos this month!  There will be displays and other activities taking place this month at the Library in honor of National Poetry Month, so watch our Web site for more details.


  1. There really are all kinds of poetry. Sometimes a bird singing outside my window is poetry. Edgar Allen Poe is dark poetry. William Blake is mysterious – I love Tyger! Tyger! Burning Bright. Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. is interestingly biblical, maybe. I don’t understand John Keats and his odes. I’ll try reading a little extra poetry for April!

    ~Maggie K

  2. I remember when I used to hate poetry, but after I sat next to that cute gal in freshman english who loved the stuff, I got hooked. I even write a little bit from time to time just for the fun of it.


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.