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Celebrating National Poetry Month

Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Poetry can be an intensive and soulful experience. Alicia Graves, a UCC student, uses poetry as a creative outlet and as a way to connect to others.

The beginning of April once again signifies the start of National Poetry Month, started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. The intent of the month is to celebrate poetry as an art form for both poets and people who do not usually care to read poetry.

Poetry is an often misunderstood form of literature, seen as either too complex or too simplistic. Gregg Smith, associate professor of English at UCC, teaches poetry and talked about why poetry matters to the world. “It affects us in different ways . . . not because the subject matter, but how it’s said,” says Smith. “It’s about anything and everything. It’s a means of articulating something that couldn’t be said; . . . it speaks to us. It’s applicable to everyone.”

Through the language of universal themes poetry can lead to in-depth contemplation about self and surroundings. “Whether it’s spiritual, physical, emotional, philosophical, humor; . . . it’s the crafting of the words to create articulation that someone else couldn’t do. The more you read it, the more you get it. That’s the beauty of literature in general, that there’s not a single interpretation.”

Men and Enoch
by Vaughn Kness
Godly sermons, men and Enoch force establishment and the forever climb. Eat your fill of the eons dragged to remainders. Dust settles, our servitude comes to pass our lives come to be reached. The sentence is demolished. Some reserve their end to a particular set, but that’s without purpose or consequence to that particular end. We’re but the echoes of a whisper Spoken through a lost age’s lips.

National Poetry Month also offers numerous opportunities for someone to write of their innermost emotions in a way speech often fails. NaPoWriMo.net is a website that encourages poets to write a poem a day for the month of April. Alicia Graves, a student at UCC involved in writing poetry, has used the month to further her own writing and connect with other poets. “[NaPoWriMo was] started in 2003 . . . [where] the objective is to write thirty poems in thirty days,” Graves said. NaPoWriMo is unable to list entries that are not first published to a website, such as a blog, but does recommend for writers to set up their own blogs through free sites such as Blogger, Weebly, and Word Press.

As poetry is a self-expressionist form of literature, writing thirty poems in as many days can be a challenging, albeit fulfilling, experience. “Writing under those constraints isn’t easy for most poets,” Graves said.

The Local Gems Poetry Press, a national publisher, runs an annual contest for NaPo. The winner receivers $300 and will have their work published in their “chapbook” of thirty poems. A NaPo Facebook page exists, as well, with a “Poet’s Corner” that links to the “Past 30 Poets Community” page.

In the winter term a poetry class is offered by Gregg Smith for those looking to formally study and learn how to write poetry. “Learn the components, the techniques, [because] it’s not all about gushing emotions. They come to understand the technique,” Smith said of the course.

Poetry has the power, when written or read, to be more than another homework assignment students must complete. “I had people [in class] who weren’t big talkers, but once they had a chance to write things down . . . poetry really spoke to them about conflicts in their life,” Smith said. “It said for them what they couldn’t say themselves. It’s comforting. The very nature of poetry, it speaks to you.”

Things Passed
by Vaughn Kness
The unrequited and unkind. Some possessions of an illogical thing. Speak of the romantic to know all they ever were. To speak volumes of the world’s air, ours the chatter of singing birds residing in winds. Ours the hush of silence drawn from the current of waves. Happiness and shouldered blame; time’s not a clock face nor a memory, but the blame we place on things passed. I suppose what’s meant of people can’t be known, words can’t be felt. See every hope born from promise, But there’s no instruction for building a new world. All is fading. All the banished instructions, the coil of response is severed. Purpose and temptation are fiction to a lover’s heart. But we’re entities of spectacle, chosen for the best life worth living. Take no heart which isn’t your own. Kill your love or it will kill you.