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Poetry > 2019 National Poetry Month

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message 1: by ColumbusReads (last edited Apr 08, 2019 07:13AM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
Happy National Poetry Month everyone! How about we challenge ourselves with a piece of poetry every day of the month. Here’s one recommended by Danez Smith. It’s titled WOLFCHILD by Ariana Brown.

message 2: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
A Poem by Jericho Brown

From his collection The Tradition

message 3: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
This from 2018 but many on this list you may have missed. I know I have. 2018 Poetry Books by Queer POC:

message 4: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
From Kevin Young’s Dear Darkness—a book of family, memory, sudden grief, and the food that comforts.

Song of Cracklin

Little heaven,
marked man,

I’ve seen you turn
a bag see-through

Then escape—
Homemade Houdini

God of grease
& heartburn

You test me
& my nerve.

you’re Russian

delicious as death—

God of grief
& heartattack

Hourglass we hope
to outlast

How you clog
the house with talk

& laughter for days,
the black skillet singing

Your name.


About Dear Darkness

Delivered in Young’s classic bluesy tone, this powerful collection of poems about the American family, smoky Southern food, and the losses that time inevitably brings “bristles with life, nerve and, best of all, wit” (San Francisco Chronicle).

message 5: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
Trinidadian-born poet and visual artist, Cheryl Boyce Taylor on womanhood, motherhood and poetry:

message 6: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
Poetry selections by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor:

message 7: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
Tonya Harding’s Fur Coats by Camonghne Felix...from her new collection- Build Yourself a Boat

message 8: by Carol (last edited Apr 10, 2019 12:38PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 561 comments LitHub published an article in 2018: "Queer Black Poets Since the Harlem Renaissance."

In it is a link to "Power" by Audre Lorde.

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
instead of your children.

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles
and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses
only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.

A policeman who shot down a ten year old in Queens
stood over the boy with his cop shoes in childish blood
and a voice said “Die you little motherfucker” and
there are tapes to prove it. At his trial
this policeman said in his own defense
“I didn't notice the size nor nothing else
only the color”. And
there are tapes to prove that, too.

Today that 37 year old white man
with 13 years of police forcing
was set free
by eleven white men who said they were satisfied
justice had been done
and one Black Woman who said
“They convinced me” meaning
they had dragged her 4'10'' black Woman's frame
over the hot coals
of four centuries of white male approval
until she let go
the first real power she ever had
and lined her own womb with cement
to make a graveyard for our children.

I have not been able to touch the destruction
within me.
But unless I learn to use
the difference between poetry and rhetoric
my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
and one day I will take my teenaged plug
and connect it to the nearest socket
raping an 85 year old white woman
who is somebody's mother
and as I beat her senseless and set a torch to her bed
a greek chorus will be singing in 3/4 time
“Poor thing. She never hurt a soul. What beasts they are.”

And Lorde's landing page at the Poetry Foundation website is linked below.

message 9: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
You call me an “Instagram poet” to say what?! Let’s not be quite so dismissive of them. Rupi Kaur and Yrsa Daley-Ward seem to be doing just fine.

Here’s Yesika Salgado...

message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 561 comments Columbus wrote: "You call me an “Instagram poet” to say what?! Let’s not be quite so dismissive of them. Rupi Kaur and Yrsa Daley-Ward seem to be doing just fine.

Here’s Yesika Sa..."

Okay, okay. It's a big tent. Further, I'll admit that the difference between highly-lauded, presumably, noteworthy poetry and not-so-much has often been lost on me. But Rupi Kaur's poetry reminds me of Susan Polis Schutz, e.g., the Blue Mountain greeting cards my sister and I bought for one another when she was 22 and I was 16 and we thought they expressed deep thoughts because we didn't know any better.

I'm glad Kaur's making money, because I won't begrudge anyone who can find a way to make poetry profitable, but .... I guess I'm admitting that I really want to wave a cane and shout, "Get Off My Lawn!!" when I see her books, and I can't defend on principle that desire.

message 11: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
Elegy, Surrounded by Seven Trees
Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Here is a link to read the poem and/or listen to the poet read her poem.

message 12: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "You call me an “Instagram poet” to say what?! Let’s not be quite so dismissive of them. Rupi Kaur and Yrsa Daley-Ward seem to be doing just fine.

Carol, I must admit I’ve never read anything by Rupi Kaur and was going strictly by her popularity. So, yes, I’ll be careful in the future when I try to elevate the next Instagram phenom. Haha!

message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 561 comments Columbus wrote: "Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "You call me an “Instagram poet” to say what?! Let’s not be quite so dismissive of them. Rupi Kaur and Yrsa Daley-Ward seem to be doi..."

Nothing to be careful of, of course. lol

And I've seen many elitist readers moan about how people should be spending the money buying "good" poetry instead of Kaur's works, a non-starter of a commercial dream if ever there was one. I like to think most of the copies are gifts, like fruitcake. Regifted and never read. (Damn, that cane is threatening to be elevated again.) You introduced me to Selgado, though - props!

Poetry Foundation's site is such a grand rabbit hole to descend, btw.

message 14: by William (last edited Apr 12, 2019 12:49PM) (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1237 comments Mod
WaPo on our current (Black) and about to end her service as U.S. Poet Laureate; Traci K. Smith:

Poetry month is in full verse here in Washington. On Monday, Tracy K. Smith will deliver her final presentation as U.S. Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress. Smith has designed what sounds like the perfect program to conclude her two-year outreach to communities around the country: a conversation with Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, Hawaii Poet Laureate Kealoha, Indiana Poet Laureate Adrian Matejka, Oklahoma State Poet Laureate Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and Clark County, Nev., Poet Laureate Vogue Robinson. Their discussion will be moderated by Jennifer Benka, the president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets. Afterwards, you can talk with the writers and buy copies of their books. (This event is free, but you need reservations. And no matter where you are, you can watch it on the Library’s Facebook page or its YouTube site.) It will be hard to see Smith leave. Over her past two years as poet laureate, she's been an extraordinarily successful advocate for poetry. Among her many projects, she started a weekday podcast called "The Slowdown" (subscribe), which also runs on public radio stations around the country. And it's not too late to sign up for her April selections for Poem-a-Day from the American Academy of Poets.

message 15: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
William wrote: "WaPo on our current (Black) and about to end her service as U.S. Poet Laureate Traci K. Smith:

Poetry month is in full verse here in Washington. On Monday, Tracy K. Smith will deliver her final pr..."

Yes, Tracy K. Smith has done a wonderful job of reaching out to communities and people. My youngest granddaughter is now a budding poetry reader because of one of her outreach programs.

That sounds like wonderful final presentation!

message 16: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
One of my all-time favorite memoirs is The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander. Ms. Alexander is an esteemed poet, essayist and playwright. She is a professor at Columbia, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and sits on the Pulitzer Prize Board (which will make their Putitzer winner announcement today).

Here’s the poem she composed for the inauguration of President Obama on January 20, 2009:

Praise Song for the Day
Elizabeth Alexander, 1962

A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

message 17: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
This is an interesting one. Poem selected by Natasha Trethewey for the New York Times magazine section.
by Sjohnna McCray

Type 2

When I wake, this is what I tell myself:
I belong to this, to all the ghosts present

in the DNA. Diabetes,
an ancient Greek consort, sweeps through the halls

of my body. It seems the proper gift
from my father, memory locked down in the cells

of my bladder. Frequent urination
is a hard nag to beat. My body

is my father’s complaint. He rings at two
in the morning. A piss in the pot, a shot

in the dark. He’s never too far away.

message 18: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3683 comments Mod
Poem (To the Black Beloved) Langston Hughes, from The Weary Blues

My black one,
Thou art not beautiful
Yet thou hast
A loveliness
Surpassing beauty.

My black one,
Thou art not good
Yet thou hast
A purity
Surpassing goodness.

My black one,
Thou art not luminous
Yet an altar of jewels,
An altar of shimmering jewels,
Would pale in the light
Of that darkness,
Pale in the light
Of thy nightness.

message 19: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
Robin Coste Lewis, winner of the National Book Award for Voyage of the Sable Venus, a book that reflects on the depiction of the black female figure through the centuries, is currently working on a new collection that takes up the story of human migration and exploration. A central figure in her studies for this collection is Matthew Henson (1866–1955), a black American who spent several decades of his life on multiple expeditions to the Arctic, and reached the North Pole in 1909.

The Dog
Matthew Henson’s Penultimate Expedition
Before Discovering the North Pole

Eating her did not feel immoral.
Inside our efforts to maintain

our lives, our affection
had remained consistent.

On every occasion, whenever a man ran
or died (which they did—often)

she would stand and howl
at the winds, the atrocious boulders

heaving through the air all around us.
Even as we watched yet another friend fall—

struck in the head—she would stand
between my knees and hiss and growl

at the burning red clouds,
the white electric water.

And now we were in a dreadful condition,
beginning to turn mad, but I know

if I had died first, she’d have stood over me
and never considered what I began to consider

daily. Runt and cur, she outlived the whole crew—
all of them: beasts and men. And then finally, when,

for over a week, we had not seen one bear
or seal or even a blade of something beige

(and there was nothing left of my clothes
we could eat and still survive) one completely

sunless morning, when the pale, clear seal
oil had diminished into a single flame, she merely sat still

beneath my blade and did not flinch, but
looked up—into me—the way a mother

sometimes steals a secret glance into her child:
resigned to its preposterous morality.

message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 561 comments Book Riot's 8 best poetry podcasts, linked below.

One of them is Tracy K. Smith's The Slowdown, which offers a new 5-minute poetry reading each weekday:

message 21: by William (last edited Mar 06, 2020 09:40AM) (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1237 comments Mod
From today's Washington Post Book Club:

Seth Meyers hosted the PEN America Literary Awards in New York on Monday. More than $300,000 in prizes and grants were conferred on fiction and nonfiction writers, translators and playwrights (full list). Tom Stoppard, whose remarkable career spans almost 70 years, received the $25,000 Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award. Rigoberto González, the son and grandson of migrant farm workers, won the $5,000 Voelcker Award for Poetry, a lifetime achievement prize given every other year to a poet “whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.” The judges called González “one of our great mythmakers” and praised his extraordinary support, as a critic and teacher, for other Latinx poets. Last year, González published his fifth collection, “The Book of Ruin.”

6. The Brittle Man of Clay

We come across a man who sits on the side of
what used to be road, but which has been stopped
in its tracks by lava stone. From afar he looks
like a Muddy. And as we approach we can see
his flesh is baked clay, but wrapped in cracks
and chipped at the toes. He is even more ancient
than Mother, with sockets so swollen they swallow
his eyes. Should we pity this survivor or should we
break him down to shards? we ask ourselves.
We raise our fists over the pottery of his body

like hammers ready to strike, when he moves
his mouth, releasing a groan that paralyzes us.
The sound strangely familiar—a hurt nudged
awake in the recesses of our memory. We feel it
stir inside our brains and then it rains down
to our hearts. It is not a groan. It is a song—
a spell so strong it is we who shatter like pots
in a hurricane. We do not cry, we multiply.
All around us, more of us—the Smaller Ones
inside us stumble out of broken Bigger Ones.

He sings to us of snow—feathers in the wind,
pure as light, the grace of innocence in how
it dared to embrace all, from the majesty
of buffalos to the tiny kindnesses of beetles.
No creature denied the kiss of gratitude for
bearing the burden of the snowflake’s weight.
A sapling of a tree no less a part of the labor
than the muscular mountainside. Community,
equality, unity. He makes us long for gods that
our foolish ancestors once worshipped.

His song shrinks to a whisper and we have to
move in closer. We can’t hear his words but
we can feel his breath, and that’s when we
discover that our huddle is his purpose—
our bodies tightening around him like a forest.
He no longer naked and we a true collective
suddenly—one body with a dozen beating drums.
We squeeze the space out of the space between
our torsos and the brittle man of clay until he
scatters into freedom like a glorious dandelion.

From “Apocalipsixtlán” in “The Book of Ruin” (c) 2019 by Rigoberto González. Appears with the permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.

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