By Danielle Hanson
April is National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness in and appreciation of poetry. What a great time to add some more poetry into your life! According to the National Endowment for the Arts, nearly 12% of American adults read poetry—that’s 28 million readers, the highest in 15 years. The increase is led by young adults and women and is across all ethnic and racial subgroups. It’s also in part due to a number of programs which have helped put poetry into public spaces and schools, a proliferation of graduate writing programs graduating thousands of talented writers, and the Internet and print-on-demand technologies that have made the distribution of poetry cost-efficient and more accessible. To that last point, there has been an expansion in the number of journals and presses over the past 20 years, correspondingly increasing the diversity of writers and types of writing, with record numbers of books by voices previously underrepresented in literature.
So why should you read more poetry? Poems at their best distill and concentrate experience, be it an event or an emotion. They focus the reader’s attention on something and clarify it, connecting the reader to the artist in a shared experience of reality. Poetry is, simply, connection. And it only takes one or two minutes to read the average poem—perfect for modern, fast-paced lives. We often hear and feel that we are over-scheduled, craving connection and needing moments of meditation. Poetry fits our schedules and our needs. And you don’t have to keep up with characters or plots—just put the book down and come back weeks later. The power of art, and poetry, is to change your viewpoint and perspective for a time. It’s a great way to take a break or kick your mind into a more innovative space from which to tackle that next project. So enjoy a poem, and Happy National Poetry Month!
Eating His Dead Wife
It doesn’t even seem weird anymore,
eating his dead wife’s ashes
in his cereal every morning.
He enjoys being with her every day,
her inside him for a change.
If the cereal is sweetened,
he thinks of her eyes.
Bran reminds him of her navel
and how like a bowl it is.
He doesn’t know what will happen
when he runs out of her again.