National Poetry Month: Eliot Didn't Call April the Cruelest One for Nothing
Paragraph One: In which the Author Discusses That Unpleasant After Taste. Personally, I'd opt for a National Take-A-Poet-To-Lunch Day over a whole month of funereal "celebrations” of the art. It just seems that a lot of these annual (entirely laudable) attempts to put a poem in every pot smack of the medicinal (“just hold your nose; it's good for you. Trust us").
Paragraph Two: In which the Author Backpedals Wildly, Or: Poetry Events @ Your Library. The above is not to say that what is going on across the country this month is anything but wonderful and worthwhile. Anything that gets poets and the unfortunate souls who love them to stand up and be counted is a good thing in my book. I whole-heartedly encourage you to attend any and all poetry events at your local Harris County Public Library (Check your branch's Events Calendar for details). I promise they will be fun, free and no one will force any medicine-y tasting poetry on you.
Pass the Buck (Please). Though National Poetry Month was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, The Poetry Foundation has been putting its shoulder to the thing in a big way, thanks in large part to the incredible largesse of the late, big-time philanthropist, one-time poet and full-time gazillionaire, Ruth Lilly. A lot has been written about the Foundation’s perceived unwise and/or extravagant spending of Lilly's $200 million bequest and it may or may not be true. I can tell you that none of the cash has managed to find its way into this poet’s pocket.
At least some of the money has hit the streets in year-around programs as well as Nat’l Poetry Month events. Poetry Out Loud is one of the Foundation’s more notable endeavors and my personal favorite. You can find the details on the website, but all you really need to know is that it involves real, honest-to-goodness High School students reciting real poetry. This is not the poetry-reading-as-sonic-toothache that you and I remember from high school. These performers bring it. One voice, one mic, one poem. If one or two of them don't give you chills, then a whole millenium of poetry month's won't do it.
Paragraph, Last: In which the Author Exhibits Delusions of Relevance. For those of you who just can't get enough of these prose stylings, please check out the Teens blog where I fail miserably in my attempt to influence the young.