April is National Poetry Month

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012

That’s not the best title for a blog, is it? I wonder how many people might see the title and click away to a different website because they’re “just not into poetry.” But every April, I hope to renew my interest and appreciation for poetry and try to encourage others to join me.

Whether poetry is growing or waning in popularity (I guess it depends on which group of people you’re looking at), the art form remains a source of joy for many. More precisely, poetry does things that no other form of communication can accomplish. And the fact that I can’t quite put into words what poetry does only reinforces the point.

After reading a poem, I often smile or choke back a tear or feel something I hadn’t felt in a long time (or ever). Most often, I want to show the poem to someone else. But I can never restate it or tell it “in a nutshell.” (Surely there must be a poem about nutshells somewhere. Maybe I’ll write one and post it here next April. Isn’t it a strange request to summarize a whole book (or movie or, worst of all, a poem) “in a nutshell?” Why would you want to do such a thing?).

So, instead of saying much more about what poems do, I’ll point you to a brief TED Talk by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States.

If you’ve got 15 minutes, click here:


In that talk, Collins suggests ideas of ways to weave poetry into our lives. One idea that I like is to develop a habit of reciting a poem at the beginning of a meeting.

If you’d rather just laugh and you’ve only got 3 minutes, listen to the final part of his presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZSIYQeF7FE

Or, perhaps you’ll delight in a poem I’ll copy here. It’s by Richard Wilbur, one of my favorite poets. Enjoy:

A Wedding Toast

St. John tells how, at Cana’s wedding-feast,

The water-pots poured wine in such amont

That by his sober count

There were a hundred gallons at the least.


It made no earthly sense, unless to show

How whatsoever love elects to bless

Brims to a sweet excess

That can without depletion overflow.


Which is to say that what love sees is true;

That the world’s fullness is not made but found.

Life hungers to abound

And pour its plenty out for such as you.


Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine,

I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.

May you not lack for water,

And may that water smack of Cana’s wine.


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