Poetry

Writers in the Schools’ Poem A Day Project Comes to HCPL’s Facebook Page

Writers in the Schools A Poem A Day BannerMaybe it’s because their sense of wonder has not been tamped down by too many peeks behind the wizard’s curtain, or maybe it’s because their language has not been clogged up with convention and cliché. Whatever it is, children and teens seem to have a felicity with poetry that adult poets can spend their careers trying to recapture.

Writers in the Schools (WITS), a local nonprofit organization, actively encourages children (K-12) in over 350 area classrooms to develop those skills. Each April, WITS celebrates National Poetry Month by sharing some of the students’ work with the community through its Poem A Day project. We at Harris County Public Library are excited to participate in this year’s event. Starting this Monday, April 2 and running through the month, fans of HCPL’s facebook page will get to read these inspiring poems.

Adrienne Rich (1929 - 2012)

Cover Art: Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne RichOnce Adrienne Rich got the pretty (though pointed) rhyming verse out of her system (and she did that early--her first book was published when she was still at Radcliffe) Adrienne Rich constructed a voice for herself that was equal parts lyric brilliance, surgically precise language, and undiluted rage. To call her a feminist poet, while probably accurate, diminishes her project. Yes, the overarching issue of her writing, perhaps its sole impetus, was the struggle to carve out a place for women in society and as such she can be seen as a political/activist poet, few if any of her poems can be read as merely political statements.

Wislawa Szymborska (1923 – 2012)

Cover Art: View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa SzymborskaIt’s like this: for a very long time, we are not here; then we are here but not for very long; then we are not here for the longest time. Some people know the general whereabouts of “not here.” Myself…I haven’t the foggiest.

What I do know is that the poet, Wislawa Szymborska, is not here anymore.

People who really knew her—the people who liked or didn’t like her cooking, who worried that she smoked too much, who had to sit and listen to her talk through the years of not writing after she won the Nobel Prize—will be allowed to cry and howl and shuffle around their flats in bedraggled flannel robes as long they need to. That is their right because they knew and loved her.

Beyond 'Twas the Night Before Christmas: Holiday Poetry for the Harried

Photo Credit: Blue Lights, Snowy Night by William KlosFor many adults Christmas has become a rote observance of traditions wholly estranged from their original meanings. For others it is a sort of annual moral mulligan, a time to shower attention, gifts and good cheer on those who rightly deserve those things year-round. For still others it is a time to take stock of their lives—to measure themselves against the pervasive messages of the season and to inevitably judge themselves lacking.

The message of every “very special” Christmas Special on TV is that Christmas is not at all about the gifts and tinselly excess, but the advertisements strewn liberally throughout make an utterly convincing counter-argument.

Poetry for Native American Heritage Month

Cover Art: The Winged Serpent: American Indian Prose and PoetryYou can see them in our landscape, in place names like Anahuac, Wichita Falls and Navasota. You can see them in our language, in the words shack, lagniappe and totem. They are in the food we eat—they were first to cultivate potatoes, corn, coffee, and chocolate. They had empires, architecture, science, mathematics and art to rival anything in their conquerors’ lands.

Midnight Notes on the Poet H. D.

Portrait of H. D., courtesy the Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org)When we think of the poet H. D. (born Hilda Doolittle) we see her as through a prism, or perhaps more fittingly as the subject of a cubist portrait. She is fragmentary--a series of planes that don't quite make a whole but which carry undeniable significance.

Allen Ginsberg: Heartthrob

Cover Art: Howl: The Original Draft Facsimile / Allen GinsbergGranted, casting James Franco as the poet Allen Ginsberg in the new film Howl is not as bizarre as trying to shoehorn John Wayne into the role of Genghis Khan, nor as venal as tapping Brad Pitt to play Achilles. Still, my initial reaction was, "What? Matthew McConaughey wasn't available?"

After I managed to talk myself off the ledge with the promise of cookies and the reassuring notion that at most three or four people would pay to see a movie about an Eisenhower-era obscenity trial surrounding a poem that today could be used to sell artfully distressed lofts to red state fauxhemians, I had to concede that of today's young actors Franco is the only one with the perverse, what-the-[heck] sensibility to pull it off.

Literary Squirrels

Literary SquirrelThe Squirrel in Poetry

October is Squirrel Awareness Month. And what you might ask have squirrels to do with poetry? Let me make you aware.

Fish in a Barrel: The Case Against Billy Collins

No BillyI hate Billy Collins.

I imagine he would say with a six-figure smile that I'm way at the back of a long line of people who hate him.

Billy can take heart in the fact that because so many people hate him, it is becoming fashionable in some circles to claim to like him, but this is a transparent contrarianism born of cocktail party boredom and too much boxed wine on an empty stomach.

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