national poetry month

NPM2016 - Thomas Hardy

I've been looking into some Thomas Hardy poetry recently and quite enjoy his work so far. "Though frequently described as gloomy and bitter, Hardy’s poems pay attention to the transcendent possibilities of sound, line, and breath—the musical aspects of language." Here's one to get you started if you don't know him. 

I look into my glass,
And view my wasting skin,
And say, ‘Would God it came to pass
My heart had shrunk as thin!’

For then, I, undistrest
By hearts grown cold to me,
Could lonely wait my endless rest
With equanimity.

But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.

Thomas Hardy as found in Great Short Poems

NPM2016 - Acquainted with the Night

I heard Dana Gioia read this poem at a lecture and fell in love with it. I have a particular fascination with issues of darkness and light when it comes to writing, and the darkness particularly associated with the night. 

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rainand back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night.

National Poetry Month 2013

It's here again! Always look forward to National Poetry Month (NPM). It's a good yearly reminder to consider our words and make the most of them. May our words be pregnant with meaning! It's a good reminder to see the world thorugh a poet's eyes. In a world of abbreviations, texting, and Twitter we would do good to say more with less. And it would be good in the hustle of life to slow down and digest something beautiful in slow meditation, seeing every word in its place and with its purpose.

Who are some poets you like? It's ok if you don't know the book sort. What songwriters do you like?

For more info on National Poetry Month, go to The Academy of American Poets website ( (also Twitter | Facebook). They founded NPM in 1996.

NPM 2013

National Poetry Month 2011


It's April! That means another National Poetry Month is underway! Hope to have a few good posts on poetry and poets. What a wonderful art. To kick off NPM2011, here's famous Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, with his most famous poem, Howl (from Howl and Other Poems). Instead of giving you the longer poem in text, here it is read aloud by Ginsberg. What better way to read a Beat poet than by hearing a Beat poet. HEADS UP: He uses language some might find offensive. But I think it's important to understand.

ListenPart I & II (includes text of poem) | Part III & Footnote

From (great site) on the Beat poets...

Beat poetry evolved during the 1940s in both New York City and on the west coast, although San Francisco became the heart of the movement in the early 1950s. The end of World War II left poets like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso questioning mainstream politics and culture. These poets would become known as the Beat generation, a group of writers interested in changing consciousness and defying conventional writing. The Beats were also closely intertwined with poets of the San Francisco Renaissance movement, such as Kenneth Rexroth and Robert Duncan.

The battle against social conformity and literary tradition was central to the work of the Beats. Among this group of poets, hallucinogenic drugs were used to achieve higher consciousness, as was meditation and Eastern religion. Buddhism especially was important to many of the Beat poets; Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg both intensely studied this religion and it figured into much of their work.

Allen Ginsberg's first book, Howl and Other Poems, is often considered representative of the Beat poets. In 1956 Lawrence Ferlinghetti's press City Lights published Howl and Ferlinghetti was brought to trial the next year on charges of obscenity. In a hugely publicized case, the judge ruled that Howl was not obscene and brought national attention to Ginsberg and the Beat poets.

NPM: Billy Collins Interview

Billy-collins Listen to this interview of Billy Collins by Christy Tennant of International Arts Mission (IAM). You should subscribe to the IAM podcast. One of the best things on the arts from a perspective of faith out there.

Also check out the most touching Billy Collins poem (to me) "The Lanyard." It's something I like to point to each April in remembrance of my Mom, who died of cancer in April of 2007.