Posts Tagged ‘National Poetry Month’

In April, I had the chance to join Joy Curry on her morning show, “Joy in Morning!” on 88.1 WETN. We talked about National Poetry Month, bird-watching, and poetry. If you would like to hear the interview, click below!

Dr. Jane Beal (4-13-12 – Nat’l Poetry Month)

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April is a beautiful time to celebrate poetry for life … and it’s National Poetry Month! So how can we enjoy it?

1) Read poetry this month. Read a poem-a-day! If you’re a poet, try writing a poem-a-day, too. It’s a worthy challenge!

2) Thursday, April 14th is Poem-in-your-Pocket day! Pocket your favorite poem and then share it throughout the day with the people you know. For more ideas about how to share poetry on April 14th, check out: Poem in Your Pocket Day.

3) On Monday, April 18th, I’ll be talking with Joy Curry on her “Joy in the Morning” radio show on 88.1 WETN at 8:30 AM about National Poetry Month, Holy Week, and my new collection of poems, Butterflies. To listen to the live stream, link to WETN Wheaton College Radio. (To get a preview-through-review, you can listen to the 2010 and 2009 clips of Jane & Joy on the radio.)

*And you can visit Jane Beal at Lulu Press to preview and purchase poetry, in printed or eBook format, including the latest collection, Butterflies. Enjoy, enjoy! Happy National Poetry Month to you & yours!

Share the love, share the poetry

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After kicking off National Poetry Month with a radio interview on the 88.1 WETN show “Joy in the Morning,” I’ve continued to celebrate poetry all month long.

I joined the Brotherhood of the Briar for a second time in April and recited a little bit of Emily Dickinson, the poem that begins, “Success is counted sweetest …” Later, I celebrated poetry with student poets at Wheaton College at the release parties for two publications, The Pub and Kodon. I was particularly delighted with the recent work of one of my former students, Peter Strand, who shared his poems “World Records” and “Avocado.” Peter’s talent first impressed me when I read “Los Que Saben Las Garífunas,” which I originally posted last summer – a sensual, beautiful poem! I also enjoyed listening to the music of Gabriel DiRicharde, whose lyrics are genuinely poetic, as can easily be discovered at his blog: “i am the outlaw.”

Yesterday, the last day of National Poetry Month, I gave a poetry reading and flute performance at the BGC Museum for, as Milton would say, “a fit audience though few.” I was delighted to be able to share poems from my forthcoming collection The Bird-Watcher’s Diary Entries as well as my in-progress collection Birth-Song. Some other poems I truly enjoyed sharing were … “Man Friday’s Girl” from Made in the Image, “Angels on Jacob’s Ladder,””Sea Turtle Song,” “Garden Hoses,” and “Bridge” from the newly expanded version of Love-Song, “The Horn of Amalthea, the Last Unicorn” from Magical Poems for Girls, and “Meditating at Nelson Cove: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA – 30 August 2009,” an experimental haiku sequence, which I published in Tidepools.

As I prepared the poems for the reading, I saw a theme emerging that related very closely to the fact that I am severely directionally challenged. For example, I set off to go to Sky Yoga Studio last Sunday. It is literally fifteen minutes from my house, but I’d never been there before. I made four wrong turns and arrived a half an hour later than I intended. Sigh. But that’s me. It seems, though, that this literal difficulty sometimes extends to the metaphoric journey of my life. Where am I going? Where have I been? Will I ever arrive at my desired destination? Where is the harbor of my life? I love to sail out to sea, but I also want to find my rest at home.

So several of the poems I chose related to this theme, and so did one of the songs I played with on flute, Rascal Flatts, “Broken Road.” It’s a beautiful song worth listening to if you haven’t heard it. Like so many love songs, it could easily be sung to a lover or to the Lover of our souls, which is comforting to me.

Although I originally intended to end my reading with “Song to the Mapmaker,” I forgot to read it! Fortunately, in the blogosphere, it’s possible to make certain changes in the record of events, so here is the poem from my collection, Sanctuary:


Even when I do not know where I am going, God knows. He knows the map of my heart because he drew it. He understands the map when I do not. He knows how to help me follow it even when I get lost. And most beautifully, he is walking with me on all the roads upon which he has set my foot.

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What do lovers, poets, Christians, and fools all have in common? The 1st of April, of course! Yesterday started off National Poetry Month delightfully for everyone (as far as I can tell).

To celebrate, I joined my friend Joy Curry on her morning radio show, “Joy in the Morning,” at 88.1 WETN, to talk about poetry … and Easter … and love and bird-watching (no kidding!). I really enjoyed our conversation. To listen, just click:


Afterwards, I learned that my mother (who is probably my biggest fan – love you, Mommy!) was able to listen to the interview live on the internet in California while Facebook-chatting with a friend in Jordan (yes, the Middle East, right across the river from Israel) whom she persuaded to listen to “Joy in the Morning” online, too!

You never know how far your voice can reach.

In April, I’ll be writing a poem-a-day (as I did last year), and I invite all other poets out there reading posts at “The Poetry Place” to do the same. If you aren’t writing, I hope you’re reading poetry. Poetry can bring you joy!

And I am wishing you all joy during National Poetry Month.

Jane Beal

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To celebrate National Poetry Month, I thought I would interview one of the poets I admire most, Robert Pinsky, who served as US Poet Laureate from 1997-2000 and has authored several books, including a brilliant collection of poetry, The Figured Wheel.

When you were serving as the US Poet Laureate, you started the “Favorite Poem” project. My favorite poem is the intricately beautiful, 14th century poem, “Pearl.” I also greatly enjoy biblical poetry like the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. What are some of your favorite poems?

*Among many: George Gascoigne’s “Gascoigne’s Woodmanship,” William Carlos
 Willliams’ “Fine Work With Pitch and Copper,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “At the
 Fishhouses,” Fulke Greville’s “Elegy for Philip Sidney,” William Butler
 Yeats’s “Adam’s Curse,” George Herbert’s “Church Monuments,” Robert Frost’s
”Directive,” Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “To Margaret,” James McMichaels’ “Four 
Good Things,” Alexander Pope’s “Epistle to Miss Blount,” John Keats’ “Ode to 
a Nightingale,” Wallace Stevens’ “Madame La Fleurie,” Emily Dickinson’s 
”Further in Summer than the Birds,” Ben Jonson’s “His Excuse for Loving.” *

I have loved reading through many of your collected poems in The Figured Wheel, including “The Childhood of Jesus” and the fantasy about Jesus and Isolt. Recently, I noticed your poem, “Shirt,” included in Bedford/St. Martin’s 250 Poems anthology, obviously an editorial favorite. Which of your own poems are particularly important to you and why?

*An impossible question for me, Jane — like many poets I tend to focus on 
the most recent. “An Explanation of America” matters to me as my most daring
 experiment and because it is addressed to my oldest daughter.*

You have lived the life of a public poet for many years. What do you believe are the roles and responsibilities of a poet in our culture today?

* As a poet, the responsibility is simply to write as well and truly as
possible. To undertake the most challenging and important subjects. To
respect the art and to hand it on, transformed if you can manage that.

As a person, the responsibilities are many and complicated, of course.*

You have also taught students to write poetry for many years, and you are currently teaching at Boston University. What do you believe young poets need to learn in order to strengthen their craft?

*The poet must read the way a cook eats, or the way a filmmaker looks at
 film, or a musician listens.*

I noticed that on your website, “Poems Out Loud: Celebrating National Poetry Month with Robert Pinsky,” there is a recording of you reading Milton’s “Methought I Saw My Late Espousèd Saint.” I teach this poem to my students every semester, and I am drawn to its references to Alcestis, since I also enjoy teaching Euripides’ play, “Alcestis.” What drew you to this poem originally, and what inspired you to include it on “Poems Out Loud”?

*All of that learning, that immense gift, all that ambition and mastery–
all concentrated on a single, poignant, human moment of personal emotion.*

National Poetry Month is a busy time for poets. I’ve been participating in Robert Lee Brewer’s “Poetic Asides” challenge to poets to write a poem-a-day this month (and it is a challenge!). “Poems Out Loud” alone is enough to keep you busy, but have you been enjoying any other poetic projects this month?

I have some reservations about the idea of marketing poetry: an art is not a
brand of soap. Poetry is fundamental, like dancing or cuisine. I have recently enjoyed reading poems by Joel Brouwer, Terrance Hayes, Jay Hopler,
Elise Partridge, Louise Glück. Also reciting to myself some of the poems I
 mentioned in response to question 1.
I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but those personal, particular experiences
of poems mean a lot to me. Official celebrations and promotions, less.*

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me and readers of The Poetry Place! Do you have a sweet, invigorating viaticum, some words of wisdom for poets and poetry-lovers, to share in closing?

*Here’s a two-line poem that has been rattling in my head for months now, 
pleasing me and inspiring me — there was a wonderful discussion of it on Slate’s “Fray”:


*On Love, on Grief, on every human thing,
Time sprinkles Lethe’s water with his wing.

There’s just something about it — the sounds, the ideas, the brevity, all
coming together. It’s a good example for me of why I love the art. (Author
 is Walter Savage Landor.)*

Many thanks, Robert!

*Thanks back to you, Jane, for asking.*

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Since taking Robert Lee Brewer’s challenge on “Poetic Asides” to write a poem every day during National Poetry Month this April 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of reading many good poems on Robert’s site by poets I didn’t know before. One of them is Yoly Calderon-Horn, author of Slip Out of Weeping Shoes, which is available from Lopside Press. I found her poem, “Bluemoon,” online and include it here:


Oh yes, this was the place
I recall the red
and mustard leafy walk we took
under a brilliant October moon.

The crunch filled
the momentary awkward spaces
and still, we charmed the nightingales
to stay.

The nightingale is, of course, a symbol of inspiration to poets, and it seems those little muses are flying about our souls not only in October, but in April as well!

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