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Things That Help: National Poetry Month

By Ada Limón

There’s something so very appropriate about the fact the first day of National Poetry Month is April Fool’s Day.  Like the world is saying, “Ha, ha, it’s ‘National POETRY Month'” in a sarcastic voice whilst using air quotes. But, no, really, it is. Like, for real. It’s OUR MONTH. We get to do whatever we want this month. We get to eat whatever we want. We get to travel wherever we want, we get to buy whatever we want…or, er, maybe that’s not right. We DO however get to talk about poetry a whole lot more this month than we usually do. And that is pretty awesome.

Right now, I’m in Texas reading and listening and sighing at Texas Christian University’s “Living By Poetry” Symposium. It’s a nice way to ring in the month. Surrounded by other poets, in the Texas sun, talking about words. Below, Rachel Zucker asked a question we just spoke about yesterday, “What do you want your poetry to do?” We asked that question to a panel of wonderful poets and the answers were different, but in many ways the same. My dear friend and poet, Jennifer L. Knox, used to say, “That’s easy, we want it to pay our rent, and clean our bathroom, and maybe make us dinner.”

But in all honesty, for the most part, poets want their poems to live long past them, to live on past their personalities, their paychecks, their publishers. We want to join the conversation of poetry that has been going on for years, for someone to reach into a book and find some little dog-eared much-loved printed thing that helps.  Because poetry has helped us. That’s why we’ve come to it. That’s why we attempt to write it, over and over, and why, even after just two days spent in the arms of the poetry world, I’m feeling a whole lot better. I think we’re all going to be okay. And that’s not an April Fool’s joke, it’s true. We’re all going to be okay, we’re going to get through things and be okay, it’s National Poetry Month and I’m feeling oddly optimistic about celebrating life’s tiny mysterious wordy wonders.

Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, April 1st, 2011 by Ada Limón.