The poet T.S. Eliot famously declared:
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.
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.
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
Take a look at these poetic forms.