If we’re sheltered from the virus, is April still National Poetry Month?

March 31, 2020

Yes.

National poetry Month may be even more important when we’re avoiding other social interactions, poetry being a very intimate interaction that spans distances and time.

Plans for National Poetry Month 2020 were made months ago; the only difference will be cancellations of actual physical gatherings.

But, literature and history teachers, is there a topic better adapted for virtual learning than poetry?

Poster of National Poetry Month 2020, from the Academy of American Poets. It was designed by “tenth grader Samantha Aikman from Mount Mansfield Union High School in Richmond, Vermont, winner of the 2020 National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students. Aikman’s artwork was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and award-winning cartoonist Alison Bechdel from among ten outstanding finalists and 180 student submissions.”

The Academy of American Poets described it:

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

Join the celebration this April by listing your virtual readings and events, signing up for and displaying the official National Poetry Month poster, participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2020 recommending the Dear Poet project to a young person, signing up to read a Poem-a-Day, and checking out 30 more ways to celebrate.

We hope National Poetry Month’s events and activities will inspire you to keep celebrating poetry all year long!

April’s a good month for poetry. I like using Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride” on April 18th or 19th in 10th and 11th grade history classes — sadly, most Texas students appear unfamiliar with the poem, which can help them on several key questions on the state test. It can be followed up with Emerson’s “Concord Hymn,” which contains a phrase they are required to know — but again, in a poem they are not taught otherwise.

And there are, or would be in a normal year, pending ceremonies of various types that demand poetry. Graduations, farewells, awards ceremonies, and more that cry out for just a few verses of poetry to put frosting on the cake, or gravy on the potatoes depending on which metaphor floats your particular watercraft.

Happy to see so much material out there for National Poetry Month. Where will you start?


Remembering Paul Revere’s ride on April 18, 1775 — an exercise in poetry, history, and prognostication

April 17, 2019

This is mostly an encore post.  Is there a good reason Paul Revere made his ride in the middle of National Poetry Month

Teachers, you may want to get copies of the poems for your U.S. history and literature classes.
I like to go through the poem again on the anniversary of the event, with students taking one verse each. It builds vocabulary (try it, you’ll see), and it gives an opportunity to discuss how history threads run long; this poem was written in 1860, when the “hour of darkness and peril” was a different war, not against Britain, and not concentrated along the nation’s Atlantic coast.

You may want to note that the Boston Marathon is traditionally run on Freedom Day in Massachusetts — the day that commemorates the ride of the patriots’ warning that Gen. Gage’s army was on the move, and of the battles at Lexington and Concord, the next day. 

_____________

April 18 and 19. Do the dates have significance?

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Grant Wood, 1931; oil on masonite. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Among other things, April 19 is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.

American history does not have a rude bridge at Concord commemorated, without the ride of the patriots the night before to warn the colonists. Though its history may run aft agly, “Paul Revere’s Ride” celebrates particular characteristics of Americans who make history.

Plus, April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?

What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775? Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies. Or, it can do.

Was there a time when poetry inspired a nation to save itself?

In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seeming wholly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm, certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poetry has  slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.  No national test adequately covers poetry, not in English, not in social studies — certainly not in math or science.

That is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes on April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1860.

LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower, as a signal light, —
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

Then he said “Good-night!” and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison-bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street
Wanders and watches with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, —
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, —
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now gazed on the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When be came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How the British regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farm-yard wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.

The Concord Hymn
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1837)

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, —
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.

Other connections for history and rhetoric classes?  Remember that Emerson’s poem came first, in 1837, at the dedication of the monument to the Minutemen at Concord Bridge.  Remember that Longfellow’s poem was published first in 1861; Longfellow was not commemorating the history so much as making a polemical point, that American  patriots rise to threats.  On the eve of the American Civil War, America faced threats that needed rising to.

Is Longfellow’s poem appropriate for 2019? Do we face any threats that need rising to, from patriots who worry about the America that will be when, “like our sires, our sons are gone?”

More, and Resources:


Anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, in the middle of National Poetry Month

April 18, 2016

This is mostly an encore post.  Is there a good reason Paul Revere made his ride in the middle of National Poetry Month

Teachers, you may want to get copies of the poems for your U.S. history and literature classes.
I like to go through the poem again on the anniversary of the event, with students taking one verse each. It builds vocabulary (try it, you’ll see), and it gives an opportunity to discuss how history threads run long; this poem was written in 1860, when the “hour of darkness and peril” was a different war, not against Britain, and not concentrated along the nation’s Atlantic coast.

You may want to note that the Boston Marathon is traditionally run on Freedom Day in Massachusetts — the day that commemorates the ride of the patriots’ warning that Gen. Gage’s army was on the move, and of the battles at Lexington and Concord, the next day. 

_____________

April 18 and 19. Do the dates have significance?

Paul Revere's ride, from Paul Revere House

Paul Revere’s Ride, by Blake. Image from Paul Revere House.

Among other things, April 19 is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.

American history does not have a rude bridge at Concord commemorated, without the ride of the patriots the night before to warn the colonists. Though its history may run aft agly, “Paul Revere’s Ride” celebrates particular characteristics of Americans who make history.

Plus, April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?

What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775? Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies. Or, it can do.

Was there a time when poetry inspired a nation to save itself?

In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seeming wholly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm, certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poetry has  slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.  No national test adequately covers poetry, not in English, not in social studies — certainly not in math or science.

That is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes on April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

Read the rest of this entry »


Get your National Poetry Month posters now!

January 22, 2015

April of each year is National Poetry Month.

A great poster comes from the Academy of American Poets.  Most often I think about the poster on April 1, so it’s rare I get one for the classroom in time (I keep them, and recycle them from year to year.)

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast designed the poster for National Poetry Month 2015, and it’s wonderful.

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast's design for the poster for National Poetry Month 2015

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s design for the poster for National Poetry Month 2015

Teachers, and other lovers of poetry, can request a free poster (while supplies last), here.

Sponsors of National Poetry Month 2015:

Sponsors of National Poetry Month 2015

Sponsors of National Poetry Month 2015


Cowboy poetry festival in Elko, Nevada – January 26-31, 2015

January 21, 2015

Poster for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 26-31, 2015

Poster for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, January 26-31, 2015

Probably won’t be a red carpet, but frankly, I’d rather the bottom-feeder TV entertainment news programs would interview cowboys coming in from the dusty trail to recite their saddle-born poetry than interview women in ugly gowns at some Hollywood awards show.

I’d watch to hear the cowboys recite in verse.  Cowboy poetry is probably one of the best-attended entertainment events in heaven, I figure.

Some year I’m going to make it to this festival.  Alas, not this year.

You?

Press release from Western Folklife Center:

 

31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Begins January 26

(ELKO, NV)— The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is January 26-31, in Elko, Nevada. The Elko Gathering is the nation’s oldest and largest annual celebration of the cultural traditions of the ranching and rural West. Every year, thousands travel to this high desert town in the heart of winter, to listen, learn and share. Through poetry, music and stories, ranch people express the beauty, humor, creativity and challenges of a life deeply connected to the earth and its bounty.

At the 31st Gathering, more than 55 poets, musicians and musical groups from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico will perform on seven stages at four different venues. The line-up includes poets Baxter Black, Jerry Brooks, John Dofflemyer, Linda M. Hasselstrom, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Wally McRae, Waddie Mitchell and Paul Zarzyski. Musicians and bands include Gretchen Peters, Tom Russell, Ian Tyson, The Western Flyers, Wylie & The Wild West, Eli Barsi, Cowboy Celtic, Don Edwards, Corb Lund & The Hurtin’ Albertans, Gary McMahan and many more! The Gathering also features hands-on workshops in traditional western arts, exhibitions, western dances, films, discussions, open-mic sessions and more. Tickets to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at http://www.westernfolklife.org, or by calling 888-880-5885.

The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will also celebrate a little-known corner of Mexico—Baja California Sur—and its rich ranchero culture. The Gathering will welcome Baja’s vaqueros, who will share with their American cowboy counterparts the traditional acoustic music, ranch cuisine, local art and craftwork, traditional lore and humor of their Californio roots. For nearly 300 years, ranching families have carved out an existence in the rugged, arid environment of the sierra of the lower California (Baja) peninsula. These ranching families are the direct descendents of Spanish missionary soldiers, and continue to maintain their horseback traditions, using riding equipment patterned after the horse gear of their Spanish ancestors. They are a living link between Spain and the American buckaroo.

The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is produced by the Western Folklife Center and supported by NV Energy, Newmont Mining Corporation, Barrick Gold of North America, Nevada Humanities, Nevada Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, the City of Elko and many more foundations, businesses and individuals.

The Western Folklife Center is dedicated to exploring, presenting and preserving the diverse and dynamic cultural heritage of the American West.

31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Poets and Musicians

  • Eli Barsi, Moosomin, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Mike Beck, Monterey, CA
  • Baxter Black, Benson, AZ
  • Dave Bourne, Agoura Hills, CA
  • Jerry Brooks, Sevier, UT
  • Cowboy Celtic, Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada
  • John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, CA
  • Elizabeth Ebert, Lemmon, SD
  • Don Edwards, Hico, TX
  • Thatch Elmer, Bear River, WY
  • Dick Gibford, New Cuyuma, CA
  • DW Groethe, Bainville, MT
  • Kenny Hall, Tropic, UT
  • Linda M. Hasselstrom, Hermosa, SD
  • Chuck Hawthorne, Manor, TX
  • Andy Hedges, Lubbock, TX
  • Carol Heuchan, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia
  • Brenn Hill, Hooper, UT
  • Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, SD
  • Ross Knox, Midpines, CA
  • Corb Lund & The Hurtin’ Albertans, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Deanna Dickinson McCall, Timberon, NM
  • Gary McMahan, Bellvue, CO
  • Wally McRae, Forsyth, MT
  • Doc Mehl, Westminster, CO
  • Augie Meyers, San Antonio, TX
  • Chuck Milner, Reydon, OK
  • Waddie Mitchell, Twin Bridges, NV
  • Andy Nelson, Pinedale, WY
  • Joel Nelson, Alpine, TX
  • Rodney Nelson, Almont, ND
  • Wayne Nelson, American Falls, ID
  • Kay Kelley Nowell, Alpine, TX
  • Glenn Ohrlin, Mountain View, AR
  • Sharon Salisbury O’Toole, Savery, WY
  • Ed Peekeekoot, Crofton, British Columbia, Canada
  • Gretchen Peters & Barry Walsh, Nashville, TN
  • Shadd Piehl, Mandan, ND
  • Vess Quinlan, San Acacio, CO
  • Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, MT
  • Brigid Reedy, Boulder, MT
  • Pat Richardson, Merced, CA
  • Randy Rieman, Dillon, MT
  • Kent Rollins, Hollis, OK
  • Tom Russell, Canutillo, TX
  • Sandy Seaton Sallee, Emigrant, MT
  • Georgie Sicking, Kaycee, WY
  • Sourdough Slim & Robert Armstrong, Paradise, CA
  • Gail Steiger, Prescott, AZ
  • Caitlyn Taussig, Kremmling, CO
  • Charis Thorsell, Burbank, OH
  • Ian Tyson, Longview, Alberta, Canada
  • The Western Flyers, Burleson, TX
  • Wylie & The Wild West, Conrad, MT
  • Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, MT
Western Folklife Center • 501 Railroad Street • Elko, Nevada • 89801 • 775.738.7508
dminter@westernfolklife.org
www.westernfolklife.org

San Antonio is probably the biggest city represented on that list of performers; most of the others in Texas and Utah (the ones I know best) are small towns, tiny towns.  No tuxedoes or Dior gowns there, I’ll bet.

Wouldn’t it be great if the entire event were streamed, and broadcast, and available on DVD?

Not this year. Western Folklife Center explained on Facebook:

Unfortunately, we will not have a live broadcast of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering this year. Funding we were hoping to receive did not come through. However, we will be documenting the Gathering in other ways this year, by filming in the G Three Bar Theater and throughout the event. Stay tuned to our website, Facebook page and YouTube channel to see videos of this year’s Gathering as well as all the great videos of past events. We will also be posting lots of great photographs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

You know, if Entertainment Tonight doesn’t have a full crew there in Elko, the world will be much the poorer for it.

More:

One of my all-time favorite poems, “Reincarnation,” performed by its author, Wallace McRae.

National Heritage Fellow Wallace McRae performs his classic poem “Reincarnation” with friend and fellow Montana poet Paul Zarzyski at the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. (15,083)


Anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, in the middle of National Poetry Month 2014

April 16, 2014

This is mostly an encore post.  Is there a good reason Paul Revere made his ride in the middle of National Poetry Month

Teachers, I’m posting this a couple of days early.  You may want to get copies of the poems for your U.S. history and literature classes. 

You may want to note that the Boston Marathon is traditionally run on Freedom Day in Massachusetts — the day that commemorates the ride of the patriots’ warning that Gen. Gage’s army was on the move, and of the battles at Lexington and Concord, the next day. 

_____________

April 18 and 19. Do the dates have significance? Paul Revere's ride, from Paul Revere House

Among other things, April 19 is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.

April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?

What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775? Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies. Or it can do.

In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seeming wholly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm, certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poetry has  slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.  No national test adequately covers poetry, not in English, not in social studies — certainly not in math or science.

That is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes on April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

Read the rest of this entry »


April is National Poetry Month 2014 — are you ready?

March 27, 2014

If you ask me, we don’t have enough poetry in our lives.

In bygone times, newspapers carried poems almost daily.  Magazines carried poems in every issue, but today you find fewer poems published in fewer magazines — can you name the periodical publication in which you last saw a poem that caught your eye, or heart?

National Poetry Month poster for 2006

National Poetry Month poster for 2006. Click image for a larger, more inspirational view.

Rhyme and meter power their way into our minds.  Teachers who use poetry find lessons stick longer with students.

Shouldn’t we use a lot more?

Since 1996, several groups including the Academy of American Poets have celebrated National Poetry Month in April.  There are posters,and of course April is a month with several poems to its creditPaul Revere’s Ride, The Concord Hymn, To a Lady with a Guitar, An April Day, The Waste Land, and several poems just about April as a month.

It’s a good time to beef up our poetry tool boxes, if we are managers of organizations, or teachers, or parents, or human.

Poetry lovers gave thought to how to do that, and there are many good recommendations out there.  For example, from Poetry.org, 30 activities for National Poetry Month 2014:

30 Ways to Celebrate

Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day
The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with co-workers, family, and friends.
Read a book of poetry
“Poetry is a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right.”
Memorize a poem
“Getting a poem or prose passage truly ‘by heart’ implies getting it by mind and memory and understanding and delight.”
Revisit a poem
“America is a country of second acts, so today, why not brush the dust off these classics and give them a fresh read?”
Put poetry in an unexpected place
“Books should be brought to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities.”
Bring a poem to your place of worship
“We define poetry as the unofficial view of being, and bringing the art of language in contact with your spiritual practices can deepen both.”
Attend a poetry reading
“Readings have been occurring for decades around the world in universities, bookstores, cafes, corner pubs, and coffeehouses.”
Play Exquisite Corpse
“Each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a surprising—sometimes absurd—yet often beautiful poem.”
Read a poem at an open mic
“It’s a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local writing community.”
Support literary organizations
“Many national and local literary organizations offer programs that reach out to the general public to broaden the recognition of poets and their work.”
Listen on your commute
“Often, hearing an author read their own work can clarify questions surrounding their work’s tone.”
Subscribe to a literary magazine
“Full of surprising and challenging poetry, short fiction, interviews, and reviews, literary journals are at the forefront of contemporary poetry.”
Start a notebook on Poets.org
“Poets.org lets users build their own personal portable online commonplace book out of the materials on our site.”
Put a poem in a letter
“It’s always a treat to get a letter, but finding a poem in the envelope makes the experience extra special.”
Watch a poetry movie
“What better time than National Poetry Month to gather some friends, watch a poetry-related movie, and perhaps discuss some of the poet’s work after the film?”

.

Take a poem out to lunch
Adding a poem to lunch puts some poetry in your day and gives you something great to read while you eat.”
Put a poem on the pavement
“Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk.”
Recite a poem to family and friends
“You can use holidays or birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate with a poem that is dear to you, or one that reminds you of the season.”
Organize a poetry reading
“When looking for a venue, consider your local library, coffee shop, bookstore, art gallery, bar or performance space.”
Promote public support for poetry
“Every year, Congress decides how much money will be given to the National Endowment for the Arts to be distributed all across America.”
Start a poetry reading group
“Select books that would engage discussion and not intimidate the reader new to poetry.”
Read interviews and literary criticism
“Reading reviews can also be a helpful exercise and lend direction to your future reading.”
Buy a book of poems for your library
“Many libraries have undergone or are facing severe cuts in funding. These cuts are often made manifest on library shelves.”
Start a commonplace book
“Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called commonplace books.”
Integrate poetry with technology
“Many email programs allow you to create personalized signatures that are automatically added to the end of every email you send.”
Ask the Post Office for more poet stamps
“To be eligible, suggested poets must have been deceased for at least ten years and must be American or of American descent.”
Sign up for a poetry class or workshop
“Colleges and arts centers often make individual courses in literature and writing available to the general public.”
Subscribe to our free newsletter
“Short and to the point, the Poets.org Update, our electronic newsletter, will keep you informed on Academy news and events.”
Write a letter to a poet
“Let the poets who you are reading know that you appreciate their work by sending them a letter.”
Visit a poetry landmark
“Visiting physical spaces associated with a favorite writer is a memorable way to pay homage to their life and work.”

How will you use National Poetry Month in your classroom, teachers?  And by “teachers, ” I mean you, math teachers, social studies teachers, phys ed teachers, biology and chemistry teachers.  You don’t use poetry?  No wonder America lags in those subjects . . .

What’s do you remember about your teachers’ use of poetry in learning?

What’s your favorite poem?

More:


Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, as poetry

August 25, 2013

Haiku, at that.

Mark Sackler at Millennium Conjectures is making haiku verses from the search terms used on his blog.  Haiku has some firm rules anyway, and this makes the challenge all the greater.

And it produces some interesting stuff, though this one may be just odd:

Existential Stench

I am alone in
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub blog
with Pepe Le Pou*

(The asterisk notes that this is how the searcher spelled it.)

An unlinked reference — some sort of indication of making it into the bloggynet conscience!

Read more at Mark’s place. (And check out the Savage Chickens cartoon.)

More, maybe only tangentially-related:

Bust of Vice President Millard Fillmore, by Robert Cushing, U.S. Senate Chamber

Does the ghost of Millard Fillmore approve? Bust of Vice President Millard Fillmore, by Robert Cushing, U.S. Senate Chamber


Quote of the moment: Rachel Carson, on why her nature writing sounds so much like poetry

June 14, 2013

Rachel Carson said:

“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”

Cover of The Gentle Subversive, by Mark Hamilton Lytle, for Oxford University Press.

Cover of The Gentle Subversive, by Mark Hamilton Lytle, for Oxford University Press.

Bug Girl wrote a fine review last year of an often over-looked book on Carson, The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement  (Mark Hamilton Lytle, 2007. Oxford Univ. Press.)  It’s worth your click over there to read a nice piece on Carson, on women in science, and on nature writing.

Bug Girl spends the necessary time and space answering critics of Carson, of Silent Spring, and those few odd but incredibly active and loud advocates who claim we can conquer disease if we can only spread enough DDT poison around the Earth.  Go see.

I find it impossible to stand in a place like Yosemite and not hear John Muir‘s voice — and it’s probably that John Muir found that, too.  Or stand on the shores of Waldon Pond and not hear Henry David Thoreau, or stand on sandy soil in Wisconsin and not hear Aldo Leopold, or sit on a redrock outcropping in southern Utah and not hear Ed Abbey.  They probably heard similar voices.  But they had the presence of mind to write down what they heard.

Writing wonderful prose, or poetry, must be easier when the subject sings of itself in your ears, and paints itself in glory for your eyes.

If Carson’s prose borders on poetry, does that add to, or subtract from its science value?

More:

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and n...

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club , on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. In the background: Upper and lower Yosemite Falls. Wikipedia image


Anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, in the middle of National Poetry Month

April 18, 2013

This is mostly an encore post.  Is there a good reason Paul Revere made his ride in the middle of National Poetry Month

_____________

April 18 and 19. Do the dates have significance? Paul Revere's ride, from Paul Revere House

Among other things, April 19 is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.

April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?

What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775? Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies. Or it can do.

In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seeming wholly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm, certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poetry has  slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.  No national test adequately covers poetry, not in English, not in social studies — certainly not in math or science.

That is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes on April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

Read the rest of this entry »


“A Political Primer on Quoting Out of Context” — Michelle Bachmann, poetry by Devona Wyant

October 21, 2012

Out of context?  GOP candidates complain they’ve had remarks “taken out of context,” when the GOP spent the past 16 years perfecting the art of political smear by out-of-context quoting?

Well!

Bachmann Scream Screen -- Out of Context

Out of Context? (collage by Devona Wyant)

A Political Primer on Quoting Out of Context
or
The Bachmann Diaries
A found Poem using quotes from Bachmann speeches and interviews

Take this into consideration.
During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy.
I have to warn you, this is not a pretty sight.
It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed
The message is: I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay.
I love homosexuals.
…and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body.
So if there’s anyone who needs sanctification, it is me.
It will be an awesome day.

© Devona Wyant

I am reminded of Ms. Wyant’s poem by Gov. Mitt Romney’s complaints that his “47% remarks” were taken out of context, and by this video response to his complaint:

Comes the news from Minnesota that her constituents have wearied of Bachmann, and she’s in a tough fight for reelection.  Awesome day, indeed.

Now, can we get that Romney guy into an appropriate context?

More:


Anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride, in the middle of National Poetry Month

April 18, 2012

This is mostly an encore post.  Is there a good reason Paul Revere made his ride in the middle of National Poetry Month

_____________

April 18 and 19. Do the dates have significance? Paul Revere's ride, from Paul Revere House

Among other things, it is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.

April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?

What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775? Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies, or can do.

In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seemingly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm; but certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poems slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.

And that is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes next April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

Read the rest of this entry »


Not averse to a verse? National Poetry Month

April 9, 2012

In spring, a teacher’s fancy turns to thoughts of poetry.  Fortunately, April is National Poetry Month.

What is it?

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

How to celebrate?  Read poetry. Use poetry in your classroom, or at your job. And don’t forget these other activities:

Poem In Your Pocket Day: Thousands of individuals across the U.S. will carry a poem in their pockets on April 26, 2012.

Poetry & the Creative Mind: Each April, The Academy of American Poets presents a star-studded celebration of American poetry.

30 Poets, 30 Days: Throughout each day during National Poetry Month, a selected poet will have 24 hours to post on Tumblr an array of ephemera—in the form of text, images, audio, and video—before passing the baton.

Poem-A-Day: Great poems from new books emailed each day of National Poetry Month. Sign up for your daily dose of new poems from new spring poetry titles.

Spring Book List: Check out the new books of poetry available each spring.

Poem Flow for iPhones: Available through the iTunes store, this innovative mobile app features daily poems presented as both fixed and animated text.

National Poetry Map: Find out what is happening in your state by visiting our redesigned and updated National Poetry Map.

Surely you can find something fun to do.


If you are a cowboy, and this is January, you’re listening to poetry in Elko

January 28, 2012

Cowboy poets, cowboy poetry, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Baxter Black!  Do you need any more reasons to head to Elko, Nevada, next weekend?

English: Panorama showing Elko, Nevada - Jaros...

Panorama of scenic, Great Basin town Elko, Nevada. Photos by Jaroslaw Binczarowski, image via Wikipedia

I get e-mail that makes me wish I were wealthy enough to travel next weekend:

For Immediate Release, January 28, 2012
Contact: Darcy Minter, 775.340.4240, dminter@westernfolklife.org

Southwest Ranch Country Exhibition Opens at the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Exhibit Features Photography of Kurt Markus and Jay Dusard

Elko, Nevada—Opening in the Western Folklife Center’s Wiegand Gallery during the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the exhibition Southwest Ranch Country sheds light on the material and visual landscape of America’s ranching Southwest. The artistry of the region is represented through the vivid photography of Kurt Markus and Jay Dusard, and handcrafted gear of some of the region’s master craftsmen. On display January 24 – September 8, 2012, the exhibition’s opening reception is Friday, February 3, from 3:15 to 5:30 pm. During the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 2-4, the gallery will feature slide shows and gallery tours by Jay Dusard and Arizona cowboy poet Ross Knox, and leatherwork demonstrations by master saddlemakers Don Butler, Bob Park and Andy Stevens.

For this exhibition, photographer Kurt Markus, of Kalispell, Montana, has selected some of his favorite images from visits to ranches in the American Southwest. These western photographs capture lives of tedium, isolation and communal living among majestic sweeping landscapes, and demonstrate Markus’ poetic sensibility combined with his realistic approach to image-making. His work cuts across many genres and he has exhibited and published widely, in this country and abroad. His books include After Barbed Wire, Buckaroo, Boxers, and Cowpuncher.This is the first time that Markus’ Southwest Cowpuncher photographs have been printed for exhibition.

Jay Dusard, of Douglas, Arizona, has meticulously photographed the landscape of the American West for 45 years, and has punched cows, off and on, for over 50 years. For this exhibition, the Western Folklife Center features his monumental-size portraits of working cowboys of the American Southwest. Jay still shoots large format film, and the resulting images have resulted in award-winning exhibitions and extensive publication, including his acclaimed first book, The North American Cowboy: A Portrait. During the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Jay will present slide shows and stories from his ongoing and extensive work in the rural West.

The renaissance of ranch-related craftsmanship is alive and well in the American Southwest, with these artists putting their unique stamp on an ever-evolving style. In addition to the photography of Markus and Dusard, this exhibition brings together some of the finest Southwest artists and the work they enjoy doing as either occupation or sideline.

  • Keith Basso, Rawhide Braider, Heber, Arizona
  • Jay Begay, Jr., Navajo Weaver, Tuba City, Arizona
  • Scott Brown, Saddlemaker & Violinmaker, Salt Lake City, Utah via Texas
  • Bobby Burns, Saddlemaker, Clayton, New Mexico
  • Dawson Byrne, Bootmaker & Leatherworker, Wickenburg, Arizona
  • Robert Campbell, Bit & Spurmaker, Amarillo, Texas
  • Wilson W. Capron, Bit and Spurmaker, Midland, Texas
  • Leland Hensley, Rawhide Braider, Meridian, Texas
  • Jay T. Hudson, Leatherworker and Silverworker, Hobbs, New Mexico
  • Gene Klein, Silversmith, Miami, New Mexico
  • Buddy Knight, Blacksmith & Silverworker, Marfa, Texas
  • Jerry Lansing, Navajo Weaver, Shiprock, New Mexico
  • George & Kelly Martin, Leatherworkers & Bootmakers, Animas, New Mexico
  • Sarah Natani, Navajo Artist, Window Rock, Arizona
  • Scott Farrell/O’Farrell Hat Company, Hatmaker, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Bob Park, Leatherworker, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Keith “Pee Wee” Peebles, Silversmith, Marathon, Texas
  • James Redman, Bootmaker, Mertzon, Texas
  • Alfred R. Reynolds, Master Bootmaker, Wickenburg, Arizona
  • Tom Paul Schneider, Silverworker, Pearce, Arizona
  • Bud Shaul, Leatherworker, Yarnell, Arizona
  • Edith Simonsen, Navajo Weaver, Window Rock, Arizona
  • Rachel Simmons, Leatherworker, Chino Valley, Arizona
  • Baru Spiller, Silverworker, Wingate, Texas
  • Dew Westover, Bootmaker, Vernon, Texas
  • Stewart Williamson, Silverworker & Bit & Spurmaker, Portales, New Mexico

Southwest Ranch Country is presented with support from the Nevada Arts Council and Margaret T. Morris Foundation. Photographs available upon request.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the nation’s greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions. The 28th Gathering will take place January 30 to February 4, 2012, in Elko, Nevada. Every January for the last 27 years, cowboys, ranchers, rural and urban people have traveled en masse to the small community of Elko, to join with friends, family and all those who share their love of rural life in the West. Together, they listen to poetry and music, learn about cowboy culture in the U.S. and around the world, experience great art, watch western films, learn a craft, and gather together to eat, drink and swap stories. Programs at the 28th Gathering will focus on the southwestern United States, specifically Arizona and New Mexico—which are celebrating their centennials this year. In addition to the Southwest Ranch Country exhibition, the Gathering will present poets and musicians from the region, as well as workshops and panel discussions focused on regional food, culture and agriculture.

The Western Folklife Center, a regional nonprofit organization, produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Visit the www.westernfolklife.org for more information about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the Southwest Ranch Country exhibition. Tickets to the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at http://www.westernfolklife.org, by calling 775-738-7508, toll-free 888-880-5885, or by stopping in to the Western Folklife Center’s ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.

***

28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Performers

Ramblin' Jack Elliott by Charlie Ekburg, Sweetlight Photography, Elko, NV.

Ramblin' Jack Elliott by Charlie Ekburg, Sweetlight Photography, Elko

Mike Beck & the Bohemian Saints, Monterey, California
Baxter Black, Benson, Arizona
Dave Bourne, Agoura Hills, California
Jerry Brooks, Sevier, Utah
Clarence Carnal, Grand Junction, Colorado
Ken Cook
, Martin, South Dakota
Doris Daley, Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada
Stephanie Davis, Columbus, Montana
John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, California
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Northern California
Rolf Flake, Gilbert, Arizona
Dick Gibford, New Cuyama, California
The Gillette Brothers, Crockett, Texas
Skip Gorman, Connie Dover & the Waddie Pals, Wyoming
DW Groethe, Bainville, Montana
Amy Hale Auker, Prescott, Arizona
R.W. Hampton, Cimarron, New Mexico
Carol Heuchan, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia
Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, South Dakota
Hot Club of Cowtown, Austin, Texas
Jess Howard, Wibaux, Montana
Tim Hus & The Rocky Mountain Two, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Ross Knox, Benson, Arizona
Marley’s Ghost, Mill Valley, California
Michael Martin Murphey & The Rio Grande Band featuring Pat Flynn, Pueblo, Colorado
Wally McRae, Forsyth, Montana
Waddie Mitchell, Twin Bridges, Nevada
Andy Nelson, Pinedale, Wyoming
Joel Nelson, Alpine, Texas
Rodney Nelson, Almont, North Dakota
Glenn Ohrlin, Mountain View, Arkansas
Vess Quinlan, San Acacio, Colorado
Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, Montana
Pat Richardson, Merced, California
Randy Rieman, Dillon, Montana
Ronstadt Generations, Tucson, Arizona
Martha Scanlan, Birney, Montana
Georgie Sicking, Kaycee, Wyoming
Sourdough Slim, Paradise, California
R.P. Smith, Broken Bow, Nebraska
Jay Snider, Cyril, Oklahoma
Dave Stamey, Orange Grove, California
Gail Steiger, Prescott, Arizona
Rod Taylor, Cimarron, New Mexico
Ian Tyson, Longview, Alberta, Canada
Dick Warwick, Oakesdale, Washington
Andy Wilkinson & Andy Hedges, Lubbock, Texas
Wylie & The Wild West, Conrad, Montana
Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, Montana


Western Folklife Center • 501 Railroad Street • Elko, Nevada • 89801 • 775.738.7508
dminter@westernfolklife.org
www.
westernfolklife.org

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Where are Charlie Kuralt and Stephen Fry when you really need them?

Elko, Nevada. Ruby Mountains in right background.

Elko, Nevada, Ruby Mountains in background to right. Notice the "E" on the mountain. Image via Wikipedia


April is National Poetry Month, 2011

April 10, 2011

You did remember, right?  I got another reminder in e-mail:

National Poetry Month continues, and so does your support! We’re getting closer to our goal of $30,000 in 30 days, and we thank you for your donation. If you haven’t donated yet, please do. You’ll be helping us share your love of poetry with children and adults all across America.

Here’s another way to support National Poetry Month: celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 14. It’s simple: tuck a poem you love in your pocket and share it with co-workers, family, and friends. Or go a step further and create your own Poem In Your Pocket Day event using the ideas at www.poets.org/pockets.

And please, please, show your support for poetry with a donation to the Academy of American Poets. As an added incentive, we’ll thank you for your generosity with these free gifts:
• Donate $25 and receive a free download of W.S. Merwin recordings.
• Donate $50 and receive a free download of W.S. Merwin recordings and a Walt Whitman ruled notebook for your own poems.
• Donate $100 and receive a free download of W.S. Merwin recordings, a Walt Whitman ruled notebook for your own poems, and a copy of the innovative anthology Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets.

Please click here to support National Poetry Month. And if you haven’t downloaded the Poem Flow app for your iPhone, find it on iTunes and take poetry with you wherever you are.


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