It is perhaps no accident that National Poetry Month  always begins on April Fools’ Day. Poetry is a foolish thing. It, more than prose in all its various forms, assumes it can draw a bead on, and ultimately make some kind of meaning (no matter how fleeting) from the messy and provisional stuff that is life in the 21st century. It is foolish because for nearly everyone but poets themselves, it has become an object of derision, and worse—indifference.
Yet, the world continues to spawn poets. Why? Because, I think, human beings, when you look at them in their best possible light, are fundamentally seekers. We are all looking for something with a big, amorphous name: grace, salvation, contentment, etc. --in short, we are looking for answers to questions we can't even quite formulate.
Even when we spend a whole weekend in baggy-seated, pit-stained sweats watching straight-to-video slasher flicks, eating cheese-flavored Styrofoam snacks and tuna straight out of the can because dialing the phone for a delivery pizza seems too ambitious--even then--our brains are trying to make sense of the world—continuously asking why, wishing that some 600 pixel per inch revelation would zap us out of our ennui like some couchbound Saul watching Travel Channel adventurers zip down the road to Damascus. Poets are foolish exactly because they put that universal longing down on paper, daring to argue against avalanches of evidence to the contrary that the act of saying something permanent and for the record about their place in the cosmos is worth the effort. Poetry is a fool’s game, yes, but it is a deeply hopeful—almost insanely optimistic—act. Even the smallest, most modest poem seeks to encapsulate the world—to give us the ability to see it all whole and of a piece—and more importantly, it says "I am here; I matter." And we, as readers of poetry, can be energized by it--reading a poet's attempts to make meaning are our own jumping off points toward our own attempts in whatever form they may take.
Here are just a few of the new arrivals in HCPL’s ever-growing contemporary poetry collection. Check one out for National Poetry Month. Maybe...just maybe, it will answer a few of those big questions, or maybe it will just make you feel less alone. Either way, what have you got to lose?
Hello, The Roses  / Mei Mei Berssenbrugge
Metaphysical Dog  / Frank Bidart
Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse  / Anne Carson
red doc>  / Anne Carson
So Recently Rent a Work: New & Selected Poems 1968-2012  / Andrei Codrescu
Aimless Love: New & Selected Poems  / Billy Collins
Sweet Machine  / Mark Doty
Lines of Defense  / Stephen Dunn
Chasing Utopia  / Nikki Giovanni
Lay  Back the Darkness  / Edward Hirsch
Seasonal  Works with Letters on Fire  / Brenda Hillman
American Amnesiac  / Diane Raptosh
Bury  My Clothes  / Roger Bonair-Agard
The Big Smoke  / Adrian Matejka
Black Aperture  / Matt Rasmussen
The Salt Ecstasies  / James L White
Books about Poetry:
The Virtues of Poetry  / James Longenbach
Transfer of Qualities  / Martha Ronk
As always, comments, questions, heated rebuttals and cookie recipes are greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.