Poetry is celebrated every April in the United States. The National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry. The UK celebrates poetry in the month of October. Since I love poetry, I will join in the celebrations for both April and October. I will feature a poem on most days in April. Yummy.
I’ve kicked off my preparations by reading through my favorite book on reading poetry. This is, of course, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by the poet and academic Edward Hirsch. Published in 1999, the book is a bestseller. Please grab a copy and read it, if you haven’t done so already. If you own a copy, please revisit the book. I love this book. For it is a great introduction to poetry, if you are a novice reader of the genre. And for the seasoned reader, the book reaffirms one’s appreciation for poetry. It is a well-crafted book. It is obvious that Hirsch put a lot of thought into writing it. His main intent is to get the reader to fall in love with poetry. And he sets out to do this by first selecting a diverse and totally wonderful collection of poems to discuss. For the discussion, he utilizes personal reactions and encounters, relevant biographical information on the poets, and comparisons to other poems and poets. He attempts to show the reader how to read a poem, and how to discern its meaning and how to allow yourself to enjoy it. And I think he succeeds at getting the reader to see and appreciate a poem. I highly recommend the book. An excerpt:
The reader of poetry is a kind of pilgrim setting out, setting forth. The reader is what Wallace Stevens calls “the scholar of one candle.” Reading poetry is an adventure in renewal, a creative act, a perpetual beginning, a rebirth of wonder. “Beginning is not only a kind of action,” Edward Said writes in Beginnings, “it is also a frame of mind, a kind of work, an attitude, a consciousness.” I love the frame of mind, the playful work and working playfulness, the form of consciousness—the dreamy attentiveness—that come with the reading of poetry.
Ultimately, one cannot experience love without actually allowing oneself to fall, to be in love, to succumb to the act of loving. It is the same with poetry. Pick a good poem that speaks to you. Relax and fall into it. That poetic experience will surely come.
Are you a fan of poetry? How will you be celebrating National Poetry Month?