Poetry

April is Poetry Month

2 Apr , 2018  

Why on Earth in April?

The poet T.S. Eliot famously declared:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The cruelest thing about it was expecting restless high schoolers, too fresh-faced to have experienced life, death, and all the memories between, to understand a word of it. According to Poets.org, April was chosen, “In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians, and teachers, we chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation. April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry—in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round.”

I prefer to think of it as a month of villainous villanelles. To kick things off, listen to T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land,” beautifully recited by Fiona Shaw. Read along, if you wish, or simply close your eyes and enjoy. You could listen to the poet’s own reading, but I recommend saving that version for bedtime.

“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
“Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
“Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
“Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!

There are no corpses planted in my garden, under the watchful eye of the gnome. It would be a shallow grave, indeed. But I will admit that “The Exquisite Corpse” is one of my favorite forms of poetry – to write, if not to read. Shall we read and write poetry together, this month? Shall I try to entertain you with doggerel and hasty haiku? I should not share good poetry here; if you don’t read it regularly, you’ll never know the difference. Well, you might: I once read an ode to a murdered child, written in the style of Dr. Seuss, fit to print on a Hallmark card. Cringeworthy, that one. You needn’t fear such an affront here.

That said, I may have written a laughingly serious roadkill sonnet in the style of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. I repent nothing.

Two Armadillos’ Strife

Against the truck, two armadillos fought
(They lost not only lives, but tail and ear)
‘Twixt sun and rain and tire tread they rot;
And yet, Death is no sneering victor here!
See? In the putrid stinking street they lie
Crushed, congealed, their armored innards cool,
Providing shelter for the pregnant fly
Who leaves her maggots where dogs dare not drool.
The gleaming pearls wriggle – what a treat!
Joyful little maggots writhe and nibble
On fetid juice and desiccated meat
A revolting sight – no one would quibble –
But thus, within this roadkill springs new life;
Small recompense for armadillos’ strife.

Copyright 2003 Holly Jahangiri

Your Turn!

Take a look at these poetic forms.

  • Pick one and give it a try! Post your poem in the comments below.
  • Pick one you want me to try. Tell me what you like about it and why you want me to try it – maybe I will!

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; and A New Leaf for Lyle. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young at heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

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8 Responses

  1. Anklebuster says:

    Holly, how macabre!

    My all-time favorite form is the playful solage.

    I’ve written nine of them, but alas, they were temporarily lost, due to carelessness on my part. Thanks to the WayBackMachine, I found my way back to 2008, where I posted them in three “volumes”. Here are my two favorites:

    Secretary Estate

    As a matter of national security
    She lives Rent-free in obscurity
    Condo lease arise

    Soft Shoulder

    Take a look back at Lot’s marital life.
    Picture them playing: he tickles his wife;

    She turns to a pillow assault.

    Another form of which I am fond is the double-acrostic. Those are challenging!

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Macabre?

      No, macabre was time spent rethinking life and career choices (with a tiny pang of envy) upon finding “The Order of the Good Death.” (Macabre is not finding that all that macabre.)

      I’d never heard of a playful solage till just now! I love a good pun, but I am not good at coming up with them on the spur of the moment. And it took me about four readings (after TWO cups of coffee) to “get” the punchline in “Secretary Estate.” (Helps to read it aloud.)

      The double acrostic sounds almost more villainous than the villanelle. Pondering: Should I try it? Hmm.

  2. Mike says:

    I actually had a poem open in my browser that is “spring-like.”

    A Bird Came Down

    Emily Dickinson

    A bird came down the walk:
    He did not know I saw;
    He bit an angle-worm in halves
    And ate the fellow, raw.

    ­And then he drank a dew
    From a convenient grass,
    And then hopped sidewise to the wall
    To let a beetle pass.

    He glanced with rapid eyes
    That hurried all abroad,–
    They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
    He stirred his velvet head

    Like one in danger; cautious,
    I offered him a crumb,
    And he unrolled his feathers
    And rowed him softer home

    Than oars divide the ocean,
    Too silver for a seam,
    Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
    Leap, splashless, as they swim.

  3. Anklebuster says:

    Hi Mike, that was a lovely poem you shared. Life needs more Emilys. 🙂

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  4. […] Mitchell Allen is the only one, so far, to challenge me with a poetry form – the double acrostic – and now, it’s his turn! […]

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