But why have a “National Poetry Month”?
The mainstream and popular activities in American culture don’t have, or need, a “national month.” You won’t see a “National Watch TV Month,” or a “National Football Month” because those are activities that people engage in without encouragement or convincing.
“Black History” and “Women’s History” months represent a subjugated sub-culture of American life. Never mind that women make up more than fifty percent of the American population and are therefore a majority. The fact is that the histories of these two groups was probably under- appreciated at some time, at least enough for someone to think that it may help to make a “Month” for their groups.
Poetry too is a ghettoized genre of American reading. It seems that most people respect poetry, are perhaps a little afraid of it, think that it’s beyond them, it’s boring, etcetera. So in order to sell more books of poetry, the AAP created “National Poetry Month” to bring poetry into the National Spotlight of the Under-Appreciated. It’s too bad that most of the poetry that they promote is of the vaguest and most unappealing kind being written. It’s necessary, though, when listening from their local shopping mall, for people to be able to fully understand a poem by hearing it only once. Any poems that require deeper readings to unlock their hidden treasures would be unsuited to the task of providing background noise while people pound down Big Macs in the food court.
The majority of poets today are little interested in connecting with the common or educated reader, and for the most part are devoid of the skill to say anything memorable or quotable. The only option, then, is to fall back on theory, whether manifesto-driven or a sort of hobby-horsemanship. By theory I mean a critical blueprint governing subject and method as well as a prior ideological agenda to be expressed in verse. In either case, the former takes precedence over the latter. The language of the poem tends to be either didactic or decentered, hortatory or disruptive.
Thanks to every reader who visited ConnectHook during April.
It made shut-in spring far more inspiring.
Here are my poems posted for National Poetry Writing Month 2020:
Huddled in your castles like Prospero’s doomed revelers, sighing in the springtime of contagion, you evade and avoid the obvious. But the Muse has entered, unseen, and stands among you in her mask of elegiac splendor. She smiles as you mock her presence. She laughs quietly to herself as her influence wafts upon the very air, inspiring and infecting all concerned. You try to protect yourselves from the lyric epidemic, nonetheless her viral poetic molecules go forth, regroup, mutate, and attach themselves to the souls of her detractors. Her spores hang upon the very droplets of the mist, a suspended Parnassian miasma. The first tremors of poetic sickness begin to shudder deep within and among the most reluctant revelers. They try to dispel their fears; they brag and congratulate themselves, chattering about the uselessness of poetry, listing all they ways in which they have successfully barricaded themselves from her pestilential presence. But the Muse has entered and none can ensure her departure. Poetry will have her way and resistance is futile. Some will survive, but others will meet her as their avenging angel of the plague, and neither Egyptian magic nor sanitizing legerdemain shall deter the blossoming vector of her influence. Fear, oh unpoetic readers, this sudden lyrical acceleration, this verdant celebration:
our poetic coronation.
A M U S E