April, as you might know, is National Poetry Month in these here States. Such was decreed by the Academy of American Poets, in 1996. You might think of this as a holiday from everything other than poetry. For poets, it’s a time to be active.

So, where are you in your poetic journey?

I began as a listener and reader. In kindergarten I remember the teacher reading “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins,” by Dr. Seuss. In the first grade I read these lines of verse in a book in the Wilmington, Delaware public library:

Respect the grass on which you tread.
T’will bloom above you when you’re dead.

Besides Dr. Seuss, I read Mother Goose and countless books and stories. In school, I wrote long verse poems, a practice I carried into adulthood. I don’t know what good writing poems has done for me. I count my poems among my finest writings. They have garnered some critical praise. I like the rush of poetry. I have written 300 or more lines of verse in a sitting on two occasions. Prose is good, as far as it goes.

April is a vital month. The forsythia are in bloom here in Brooklyn. I read a figure that some 2,000 books of poems were published in the U.S. last year or the year before—you could check with Poets House—and that’s not counting self-published books, which must number in the thousands annually. How many of these books are read by more than ten people? I read some of it, a tiny fraction of what’s out there. Poetry might not have much influence in society, but you certainly can’t say that poetry is dying. I sometimes describe American culture as the absence of poets. We listen to everyone else, practically: jocks, pols, comedians, talk show hosts, beauty contestants. Are poets dull?

Why do you write poems? Wallace Stevens said: “Because we have to.”

The money is in performing: readings at a high level, and performance poetry, slam poetry and hip hop. On YouTube you will find some of these poets of the mic with several hundred thousand hits. Not much of this poetry holds up on the page, but that’s not the point. I will be adding more sound to the poems on this blog.

Of the comments posted herein, all have been on essays about poetry, none on any of the poems. I’m not quite certain how to interpret this. Maybe people are more comfortable expressing opinions about opinions. Or they feel more compelled to do so.

In any event, I like to hear your stories about your adventures in poetry: poems you’ve written, poems you’ve read; poems that have done you good, won you love, made a difference to someone else. I leave you with a few lines of poesy.

Here’s to William Butler Yeats,
Of Ireland and fairy states;
Who, poet, statesman, carried myth,
As though a case to hold things with.

By Hudson Owen. All Rights Reserved.

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