Saturday, February 7, 2009
Pinned and Wriggling
Have you seen the poster for this year's National Poetry Month? I found out about it by visiting harriet, The Poetry Foundation blog. Daisy Fried wrote a terrific post about this new poster, and what choosing it says about the state of poetry in America today, or at least perhaps a new trend in how poetry is to be appreciated. Calling the poster "startling, elegant . . . a departure," she explains how posters of the past have presented "scrupulously inclusive" snapshots of poets and/or situations in which the images detracted from the words meant to be celebrated. Also, she states, all of the previous posters featured stink of "Uplifting Messages of Poetical - Educational Opportunity for the Benighted" (go, Daisy!). In my experience, I looked forward to receiving my annual poster, but yep, each year's poster bugged me in some minor or major way. My favorite by far (before this year's) was the 2006 collage of poems by the famous. Each morning I would get up and, on the way to the bathroom (the poster was and still is tacked to our bathroom door) say to myself: "Body my house my horse my hound." What better way to start the day? Also, in this poster the WORDS of poetry seemed to be what mattered most (as they should). But last year's poster!? Here we have these humongous hands, reaching out for what? The words "National Poetry Month." Are you joking? Meanwhile, you need a magnifying glass to decipher Jay Wright's beautiful poem in the lower left hand corner. And that's just it! Think of the message we're sending! The poem is in a freaking MOUSE HOLE. Why should the Academy be so quick to put poetry down in the sewer pipes? I mean, how are we really going to turn kids onto poetry if they see it isn't even worthy of being written in a readable font!? Listen, I was one of those kids in high school--very skeptical of poetry. Didn't think I would like it, no thanks and no way. But then I read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. After that, nothing was quite the same.
Thanks to Paul Sahre and the Academy for entertaining the idea that perhaps poetry, like laughter, can be infectious, can be written or memorized just for the love of it, that someone could be so excited and enthralled by a poem that they just might write it on a fogged up window.