National Poetry Month 2011- There are Things to Do

National Poetry Month 2011 posterAlthough April is almost over, I wanted to mention National Poetry Month. I love poetry, with its catlike way of settling into your space with never a by-your-leave or may I. Poetry– if you get the right sort, that is– clings to your mind like orange cat hair on a black skirt.

Even the most determinedly posturing Philistine (“I ain’t readin’ none of that there po’try stuff. It’s for gurls.”) can be captured by the magic of just the right words in the right combination in the right place. And that’s what poetry is, neither more nor less. Just words, vividly placed, pinning wild thoughts to tame pages.

If you haven’t yet found the poetry that stirs your soul, sign up for a daily poem e-mail or RSS feed from, get the Poetry Foundation‘s iPhone app, or put an anthology in your bathroom. If you read a poem a day, you’ll begin to find the poets that speak to you.

My beloved poets include Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, George Herbert, William Butler Yeats, and others, and I try to read at least one poem a day. Who are yours?


“Gratefulness” by George Herbert: A Thanksgiving Poem

I wish you a joyous Thanksgiving!

This is my favorite Thanksgiving poem– I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I wish you a joyous Thanksgiving!


by George Herbert (1593- 1633)

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
By art.

He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And says, If he in this be crossed,
All thou hast given him heretofore
Is lost.

But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
To save.

Perpetual knockings at thy door,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
And comes.

This not withstanding, thou wenst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay thou hast made a sigh and groan
Thy joys.

Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, than groans can make;
But that these country-airs thy love
Did take.

Wherefore I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
Of thee:

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

Inspiration Writing

National Poetry Month- Write a Poem a Day!

National Poetry Month 2010April, once called the cruelest month, is National Poetry Month. The Academy of American Poets is sponsoring a wonderful celebration this month, with a stunning poster, suggested activities, and more. You can even sign up to get a poem a day sent to your inbox.

I know several people who plan to celebrate by writing a poem every single day of the month, and I am just deciding that perhaps I’ll try it this year as well. Even if there are days when I don’t feel inspired, there’s always haiku. Not that it’s less difficult than longer poetry, but it does have the virtue of being short. I don’t write poetry often, but it’s a wonderful way to focus sharply on the craft of writing. A challenge is usually fun, too.

What about you? How will you celebrate?

And if you need to get back in touch with T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, you can find it at at the site, with both text and a recorded segment. Enjoy!

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Read more…