Some Awesome April-is-Poetry Month Links + Two Silly Poems

NaPoMo is overwhelming. Here is a collection of things I’ve salvaged from the onslaught.


The Library of Congress is Uploading 75 Years of Poetry and Literature Recordings

robertfrostpoet

Robert Frost

Yesterday selections from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress became available to stream online for the first time — the launch of a project digitizing some of their 2,000 recordings from the past 75 years of literature. “I think that reading poetry and prose on the page is important, but there’s nothing that can replace listening to literature read aloud, especially when it is read by the creator of the work.”


International Lit Mag Focuses on Dissidents, Exiles and Asking the Hard Questions

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(Review of World Literature Today, March/April 2015 by Nichole Reber)

The Children’s Poetry StoryBox is a physical traveling box that was launched at The Thurber Center in February 2014 and has returned to Columbus, OH.

(I want to do this so much, but it will have to wait until another April….)

story box

At a reception at the Thurber House, you will hear poetry that was begun by famous children’s poets – including current poet laureate Ken Nesbitt, Jane Yule, Georgia Heard, Nikki Grimes, George Ella, Lyons, David Harrison, Alan Wolf – and finished by hundreds of primarily elementary students around the nation.


Shakespeare’s Sonnets, All 154, Reimagined Through A New York Lens

(Yes, really, all 154 sonnets, with video. Oh my.)

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A crew filming Sonnet 108 at the John T. Brush stairway. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Mr. Williams tried matching sonnets with locations based on their “imagery and rhetorical arguments,” pairing, for example, the legal-minded Sonnet 46 with the State Supreme Court building. He mixed well-known locations, like Grand Central Terminal and the Unisphere, with less familiar ones, like the Holocaust memorial near Madison Square Park.


That’s enough for now. Whew. What a month.

I even wrote a poem, sort of a rant, really, actually two rant-like poems, very much the same. Here’s the second one.

Is Today Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday? Maybe

Happy Birthday Maybe to the Bard!

Click through these links for some of Shakespeare’s most beloved poetry.

And one of my personal favorites: Sonnet 116 “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” at Poets.org.  Try reciting this one from memory a little tipsy the night before you get married.

 

TIME

Every year on April 23, Stratford-upon-Avon and the world celebrate the birth of the most famous English playwright in history — and this year’s festivities will be bigger than usual, as 2014 marks what would have been the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare.

Except that we don’t actually know for sure whether April 23 was even his birthday.

Here’s what is certain: the records of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford mark the baptism on April 26, 1564, of “Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere” and that baptisms — it’s generally thought — usually took place three days after birth. So “Gulielmus” — William, son of John — was probably born three days before, on April 23.

If that’s true, it’s a neat coincidence, as that would mean he was born on the day dedicated to England’s patron saint, St. George. But not everyone is convinced. Some experts believe the April 23 date

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Prompt #21 Your Heart

Now that February is over, we can discuss poetry about the heart without succumbing to Valentine’s Day. There is so much poetry about the heart – and it’s not all about love: romantic, unrequited, historic, young, fevered, or forgotten. I’m working on a lesson plan for a group of patients with cardiac disease, and this opportunity to think about the heart in its many guises is wonderful and intriguing. Just looking up “poetry + heart” on my favorite poetry websites has been an adventure. Here are a few things I found.

  • A Birthday” by Christina Rossetti (which might be one of my favorite poems of all time). Many of you have heard me recite at the drop of a hat, “My heart is like a singing bird.” Hear it sung here.
  • Finding the Space in the Heart” by Gary Snyder, which includes this breathtaking moment:
    O, ah!
    The
    awareness of emptiness
    brings forth a heart of compassion!
  • For years my heart inquired of me,” by Hafez, translated and with notes.
  • Heart” by Catherine Bowman, which worries about the heart in modern language of anguish, comparing it to an asp.
  • Sacred Heart” by Lee Briccetti, and speaks both of the valentine and about the heart’s physicality:
    “it was wet, like a leopard frog on a lily pad, / had long tube roots /”
  • Pericardium” by Joanna Klink, perhaps my favorite new find, which closes in this extraordinary way:
    “the way the body has always been waiting for the heart to sense / It is housed, it is needed, it will not be harmed.”

You get the picture. Many ways the heart has captivated artists, scientists and lovers throughout history. Many poems.

I’d like to encourage you to write about the heart. Try not to think about “love” per se, but of course, if it sneaks into your poem, that’s okay. Think about the heart as an engine – the miraculous things it does for your body. Think about your heart as an instrument – beating out the rhythm of your life. Think about the heart of someone else – how knowable is it? What about illnesses of the heart?

I’ll close with a sweet song I learned as a child, written (or at least recorded) by Shakespeare for The Merchant of Venice.  The little song is titled “Love” in some books, and suggests the beginning of love is the eyes, not the heart at all. There are many recordings and videos on YouTube, but this is the version I learned to sing as a teenager, though not quite like this.

TELL me where is Fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourishèd?
Reply, reply.
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and Fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring Fancy’s knell:
I’ll begin it,—Ding, dong, bell.
Ding, dong, bell.

The beautiful image at the top of the post is from the Spring 2014 issue of Stanford Medicine, a beautiful magazine.

Finally, here is another illustration from that magazine. I encourage you to read about “The Mysteries of the Heart” and how this most sturdy and intricate organ is “yielding to research.”

heart birds