Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month, Week 3!

National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States, and, since 1998, it’s also been celebrated in Canada.  The idea for the celebration came when the Academy saw the success of Women’s History Month (in March) and Black History Month (in February), and wanted a way to celebrate and promote the work of poets, and the power of poetry.  So, as a Library who always enjoys a celebration, we are happy to oblige!

via the American Academy of Poets

Today, we bring you a poem by American poet Djuna Barnes.  Barnes was born in a log cabin in New York state in 1892.  Her family life was not a happy one, marked by poverty, sexual abuse, and a forced marriage to a man decades older than her (which was neither consensual or legal).  When her parents split up, Barnes, her mother, and several siblings moved to New York City.  Desperate for work, Barnes applied for a job as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, telling an editor “I can draw and write, and you’d be a fool not to hire me.” Over the next few years her work appeared in almost every newspaper in New York, including The New York Press, The World and McCall’s; she wrote interviews, features, theatre reviews, sat ring-side at boxing matches (she advocated boxing for women), and often illustrated her work with her own drawings.  In 1915, she joined a Bohemian community in Greenwich Village, and began writing and acting with some of the most well-known artists of the day.  A bisexual, a progressive feminist, an avant-garde poet, and a gifted playwright, Barnes’ work was hailed both in the US and the UK, and offered inspiration to writers as diverse as Truman Capote, Dylan Thomas, David Foster Wallace, and Anaïs Nin.

This Much and More

Djuna Barnes1892 – 1982

If my lover were a comet
Hung in air,
I would braid my leaping body
In his hair.

Yea, if they buried him ten leagues
Beneath the loam,
My fingers they would learn to dig
And I’d plunge home!

 

National Poetry Month, Week 2!

National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States, and, since 1998, it’s also been celebrated in Canada.  The idea for the celebration came when the Academy saw the success of Women’s History Month (in March) and Black History Month (in February), and wanted a way to celebrate and promote the work of poets, and the power of poetry.  So, as a Library who always enjoys a celebration, we are happy to oblige!

via the American Academy of Poets

This week’s poem is by George Moses Horton, who was born into slavery around 1798 in North Carolina.   He taught himself how to read and write using hymnals, the Bible, and cast-off spelling books.  From these, he learned poetry, and to composes verses on his own.  As a result, Horton was the first Black author in the South to publish a book, as well as the only American to publish a book while living in slavery.  The book was titled The Hope of Liberty, and was released in 1829 by the politically liberal journalist Joseph Gales, who was intended to raise funds to purchase Horton’s freedom.  He was not emancipated until 1865, however.  Following his release from slavery, Horton moved to Pennsylvania, where he continued writing poetry that focused on his experiences of a Black man in the United States.  He died in about 1884.

George Moses Horton’s signature, via Wikipedia

On Liberty and Slavery

Alas! and am I born for this,
   To wear this slavish chain?
Deprived of all created bliss,
   Through hardship, toil, and pain!
   
How long have I in bondage lain,
   And languished to be free!
Alas! and must I still complain--
   Deprived of liberty.

Oh, Heaven! and is there no relief
   This side the silent grave--
To soothe the pain--to quell the grief
   And anguish of a slave?
   
Come, Liberty, thou cheerful sound,
   Roll through my ravished ears!
Come, let my grief in joys be drowned,
   And drive away my fears.
   
Say unto foul oppression, Cease:
   Ye tyrants rage no more,
And let the joyful trump of peace,
   Now bid the vassal soar.
   
Soar on the pinions of that dove
   Which long has cooed for thee,
And breathed her notes from Afric’s grove,
   The sound of Liberty.
   
Oh, Liberty! thou golden prize,
   So often sought by blood--
We crave thy sacred sun to rise,
   The gift of nature’s God!
   
Bid Slavery hide her haggard face,
   And barbarism fly:
I scorn to see the sad disgrace
   In which enslaved I lie.
   
Dear Liberty! upon thy breast,
   I languish to respire;
And like the Swan upon her nest,
   I’d to thy smiles retire.
   
Oh, blest asylum--heavenly balm!
   Unto thy boughs I flee--
And in thy shades the storm shall calm,
   With songs of Liberty!

April is National Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States, and, since 1998, it’s also been celebrated in Canada.  The idea for the celebration came when the Academy saw the success of Women’s History Month (in March) and Black History Month (in February), and wanted a way to celebrate and promote the work of poets, and the power of poetry.  So, as a Library who always enjoys a celebration, we are happy to oblige!

via the American Academy of Poets

Every year, the AAP put out a poster as part of the National Poetry Month campaign.  You can see this year’s poster right above this paragraph.  It was designed by AIGA Medal and National Design Award-winning designer Paula Scher, It’s unique typeface and coloring is a tribute to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a Peabody Library favorite, so we’re particularly pleased to see Whitman’s work honored in this way!

Because one of our goals here at the Free For All is to bring a little poetry into your life, we are looking forward to sharing some verses with you this National Poetry Month.  Keep an eye out for our “Raining Poetry” Event as well, which is taking place on Monday, April 9, beginning at 3:30pm.  Using stencils created with the library’s laser cutter, participants will transfer poems to Peabody sidewalks. We’ll treat the stencils with a solution, so that poems appear up and down Main Street when it rains. The spray used to write the poems is invisible; when the surrounding pavement is darkened by rain, the dry words emerge and treat pedestrians to the secret poems that quietly wait to be read.  This particular art-instillation is brought to you by Mass Poetry, the Peabody Cultural Council, Peabody Institute Library, the Friends of the Peabody Institute Libraries, and a mother-daughter team of locals: Jennifer and Chloe Jean.

We can’t wait to fill Peabody’s sidewalks with poetry–and to share some with you here on our blog, as well.  If you’re looking for even more poetry, check out the American Academy of Poet’s website, which features oodles of poem, from Shakespearean sonnets to the most recent slam poetry, from the tried and true to the experimental and unique.  To get things started here, today we are featuring Emily Dickinson’s “Dear March – Come in -“, a perfect poem for springtime, with all it’s vagaries, surprises, and unpredictability:

Dear March – Come in – (1320)

Emily Dickinson1830 – 1886
Dear March - Come in -	
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat -	
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are -	
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well -	
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds -	
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -	        
But March, forgive me -	
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue -	
There was no Purple suitable -	
You took it all with you -	        
  
Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call	
When I am occupied -	        
But trifles look so trivial	
As soon as you have come
	
That blame is just as dear as Praise	
And Praise as mere as Blame -
via the American Academy of Poets
This poem is in the public domain