How Do We Love Poetry? Let Us Count the Ways.
National Poetry Month, Albuquerque-style
Let’s be honest about this: Poetry scares people. It can be a challenge to understand and refers to French people a lot. School doesn’t help, since most of the time teenagers are forced to read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and count syllables in Robert Frost’s work. While I now, as a poet, enjoy both of those things (in terribly small, occasional doses), at 16 I would have rather read transcripts of “The Lawrence Welk Show” than study poetry.
So, until about the age of 21, I thought I hated the stuff. I studied literature but only scanned through anything with funky line endings and rhymes. Then in my final year of college, I was blessed to take classes with two poets, Kathleen West and Tony Hoagland, that changed not only the way I looked at poetry, but at writing, human understanding and myself.
Though T.S. Eliot dubbed April “the cruelest month,” since 1996, it’s also National Poetry Month, an opportunity for the converted to spread the gospel. The springtime celebration was begun by the Academy of American Poets in an effort to save poetry from the dust heap of indifference. Like Black History Month and Women’s History Month, National Poetry Month seeks to fill the gaps in our education and understanding of poetry.
Is some poetry plodding and pretentious? Sure, but a ton of it is shocking and sexy and sad. This year, we asked some of our local talent to help testify. Each poet submitted an example of his or her work and, per a recommendation from former Santa Fe Poet Laureate Valerie Martinez, wrote a bit about the origin and process of the poem, adding to the overall splendification of your reading experience. Splendification isn’t a word, you say? Oh, but now it is—such is the power of the Poet. Viva Poetry!