Today, March 21, is World Poetry Day. For those who like and read poetry, every day holds poetic possibilities. But I fully recognize that many feel poetry may be, ahem, a bit whimpy. It is for you that we have days of recognition such as this one.
You may have a speech that you’re particularly fond of. The Gettysburg Address, perhaps? Or MLK’s I Have a Dream? They don’t read like instruction manuals, do they? No, they’re full of metaphorical language, carefully crafted to engage listeners, create emotional impact and drive action. That’s poetry.
Ever hear the Beastie Boys’ An Open Letter to NYC? Zeppelin? Nirvana? Willie Nelson? That’s poetry.
Do you sing The Star Spangled Banner before a game? Poetry.
Sing hymns in church, or recite prayers? Poetry.
Read a letter from a lover? Poetry.
Poetry is evocative, thoughtful, rebellious, cynical, dangerous, beautiful. It’s written by men and women and children who dream of love, dream of escaping war, dream of overcoming hate, dream of nature. It’s written out of desire and hope and appreciation and futility and aggression and depression and desperation and deprivation.
Some poems follow specific rules. Most does not. It’s like painting, but with words instead of colors. Or sculpture made out of phrases instead of marble. It’s art, but not above any person. You can write a poem. You probably have. Was it good? Who cares. Was it an expression of your thoughts and emotions? That’s all that counts.
Here are a few samples to check out. Consider it a poetry pot luck party, a line of shots on the bar that might just expand your mind. This isn’t rose are red stuff, folks. Try it…that’s what today is all about.
City Lights Books
Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate