It’s National Poetry Month in the United States, and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about poetry and celebrate one of my favourite literary forms. There was a time when I looked down my nose at such greeting-card company-esque “theme” months in the United States (do any other countries do this? We don’t in France.), but now as an educator I can see the importancece of such campagnes. They allow for poetry (or Women’s History, or African-American History) to find a place (albeit small) in the classroom, and educators can carve out a place to enhance an often white-bread and fast-food-flavoured curriculum.
Who is your favourite poet? Do you have one? I’ll be honest, I don’t have just one that I love more than others. Through my own interest (I swear I was born with a book in my hand), and accompanied by education (one of my undergrad degrees and my Masters are both in literature), I’ve found solace and companionship in poetry much of my life.
I think like most rebel-teens I fell in love with the Beat Poets, and admit that Gregory Corso will always have a special place in my heart. I even took to memorizing The Lizard King’s poetry when I was 15, because I so understood what he was talking about.
Richard Brautigan is one of my favourite poets and novelists, and In Watermelon Sugar and The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster changed my life (as literature often does when you’re but 20 or 21 years old), and I’m still looking for a copy of Please Plant This Book (so if you EVER come across a copy at a yard sale, do pick it up!).
I also need to mention Charles Simic, because I absolutely love his sense of humor. The World Doesn’t End is just amazing, as is A Wedding in Hell. Read them!
Because I love you, I’ll share with you one of my favourite poems, written by the French poet Tristan Tzara, a Romanian-born avant-guarde French poet.
Tzara with Man Ray – photo credit google images
I might be breaking a copyright law, but here it is:
quel est ce chemin qui nous sépare
à travers lequel je tends la main de ma pensée
une fleur est écrite au bout de chaque doigt
et le bout du chemin est une fleur qui marche avec toi
Here is my translation (do be aware there may be an official translation out there somewhere…)
what is this path that separates us
across which I hold out the hand of my thoughts
a flower is written at the end of each finger
and the end of the path is a flower who walks with you
This is also the perfect moment for me to gain momentum on my 300 Poem Project. I used to be an avid writerfish, but life just gets in the way and new creative outlets push others to the background. My hope is to have a volume of 300 poems (my initial hope was a poem a day, but that isn’t going to happen people) to document my year.
I would love to read about your favourite poems and poets, especially female poets (the lacunae of my poetic knowledge). Share! Tell me who you love (or hate!).
I’m also looking for some short story recommendations. I love studying short stories with my students, and I would love to hear some of your favourite short story titles! Tomorrow we’ll be reading Dahl’s Lamb To The Slaughter, a classic!