National Poetry Month | Days 11-15

This April, I’m reading one poem per day to celebrate National Poetry Month! I asked you for recommendations, compiled a list of the most promising-sounding works, and have been having great fun with this project ever since! This is the third of six updates, with my thoughts about the most recent five poems I’ve read in each post. You can find my earlier posts for National Poetry Month here.

Enjoy!

4/11

November, 1806

William Wordsworth

Such a fiercely hopeful poem! I totally read this with the present day in mind – the Trump administration and all that, you know. I faked my way through Wordsworth’s verse in Foundations of the English Major last semester and I really regretted that after reading this. I’ve been missing out!

4/12

The Legend

Garrett Hongo

Quiet. Beautiful. Sad. I think it’s about loneliness and how disconnected we can feel despite being surrounded by others. The website where I read this poem says it was written in memory of Jay Kashiwamura, a name I’ll have to look up when I have the time: I’m really curious now.

4/13

I Am Offering This Poem To You

Jimmy Santiago Baca

I’ve read a number of poems about writers and writing so far this April, but I don’t think any resonated with me quite so strongly as this one. Writing is, among so many other things, an expression of love! Oh my gosh, I need to start a collection of poems and quotes on writing as an act of love… maybe I could use of my gazillion trillion empty notebooks for that?

4/14

How To Be Perfect

Ron Padgett

This is an extremely long poem that I spent a lot of time both reading and thinking about. It’s filled with life advice… some serious, some not. I’m tempted to try writing my own version because the format was just so much fun!

4/15

Dialogue with an Artist

Matthew Sweeney

The halfway point! “Dialogue with an Artist” is such a lonely yet beautiful poem. I interpreted it through the lens of mental illness despite not knowing if that’s what it was intended to be about. That’s the great joy of reading, right? You can give everything its own meaning. I can’t get the line, “Had I not been lonely, none of my work would have happened” out of my mind.

-~-

Have you read any of the poems mentioned here, or any by the same authors? Do you have any recommendations for further reading for me based on these works – a sort of “if you liked that, try this” thing? And how are you celebrating National Poetry Month?

P.S. Check out my latest Her Campus article: Seven Women Poets You Should Read To Celebrate National Poetry Month!

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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One Response to National Poetry Month | Days 11-15

  1. Mahima says:

    I know I keep on recommending poems to you, but ‘November, 1806’ reminds me of a poem by another favourite poet of mine! September 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden is a great poem about living in a Trump world and I particularly like the penultimate stanza (I won’t post it here cos I think it would be better to experience the poem in full).

    Hongo wrote ‘The Legend’ after he watched a tv programme on street violence. He watched the programme vaguely refer to the Asian man (like in the poem) who accidentally got shot. I think the poem resonated with me so much because of how the speaker in the poem seemed to question himself and his ethnic identity in relation to how his country dealt with this identity (in the programme respect was not payed to the ‘anonymous’ Asian man who got shot, but Hongo dedicates the poem to him after searching for his name). Now that I’ve researched it a bit the poem gains a lot of perspective and I love it so much more for exploring the social isolation the discrimination and disrespect ethnic minorities face.

    ‘How to Be Perfect’ is one of my ultimate favourite poems ever! It’s quirky (“make eye contact with a tree”) and sometimes really wise (the whole thing about “the curative powers of coldness and gravity”) and sometimes pretty whimsy (“look at that bird over there”). You should try out your own version, I think that’s such a fun idea.

    Dialogue with an Artist is a special one. The line you quoted gives a lot of perspective. And yet I wonder how much of it is about the suffering artist – the relationship between your pain or, I guess, numbness, and your work. It’s key, I think, in being more introspective and understanding yourself.

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