In the United States and in Canada, April is National Poetry Month.
Although we don’t actually celebrate the month in the UK, focusing instead on a single Thursday in October for National Poetry Day, the concept of “national” celebrations has become very blurred in recent years. With modern tech and global comms, it’s sometimes hard to ignore the sheer number and volume of voices taking it for granted that what’s true in their region must be true everywhere.
So there is a little bit of my mind that seems to think I should be writing or posting poetry throughout the month.
At first sight, if the aims of National Poetry Month include celebrating the poetry of the past, increasing awareness and appreciation of poetry, and focusing on the continued relevance of poetry today, it seems it should be something I support.
But when I stop and think about it, I’m not 100% sure that the poetry that is ‘relevant’ today – or at least the poetry that is popular – is the poetry I want to read or encourage. I suspect, too, that for every person who discovers joy in poetry through National Poetry Month, there is probably at least one other who is put off by all the fuss about it or by the poor quality of much of what is shared under the initiative.
Given my ambivalence, the title of this piece from my files seems apposite:
There’s no poetry
in traffic jams:
we edge forward
foot by foot.
behind a juggernaut
with no opportunity
to scan ahead for a turn,
in the fast lane,
syncopated with the nearside flow;