Wednesday, April 01, 2020

National Poetry Month, Day 1

Welcome to National Poetry Month! Thirty days of focus on poetry: it's such a treat every year, but I always wish for more time to be able to take advantage of all the riches. Will I get it this year? It remains to be seen. I am, like so many others in the world, locked in at home, but online teaching isn't less work than in-person teaching. If anything, it's more work, because the assignments just trickle in When we did it before, it felt as though it was all the non-fun parts of teaching (grading, mostly - I do actually enjoy the planning part) and none of the fun parts (students, classroom interaction, time with colleagues). This time around it's going much more smoothly, since both my students and I have experience in this. But it still takes up a lot of my day.

I'm going to try to post every day, as I did last year, using open tabs on my computer. Here's what I wrote last year:

Some years I have attempted to do a daily post in NPM, and some years not, and this year on the whole I thought not, but then I realized that I have so many open tabs on my desktop that contain poems that I could probably post for two weeks just by sharing those. This would allow me to close the tabs, and also it would allow others to see what I've kept open over the last few months. Sometimes I save something because I just want to read it again, sometimes because I want to write something similar. My husband is endlessly horrified by how many tabs I have open all the time. When I run out of open tabs, I have poems I've saved in email that I can share, and by that time I'll have new tabs open, anyway.

The thing is, I know I'll be mostly talking to myself in these posts. All my poetry-loving friends are just as busy during NPM as I am. If you are stopping by to read, welcome, and leave a comment to let me know you've been here. 

So this year, I'm going to try all that again. I hope to write some of my own poems this month, too, and if I can manage it, I'll be sharing some of those.

When I woke up this morning, the internet wasn't working, and for a few moments I indulged a nightmarish vision in which we'd be locked in our house for a bazillion more weeks with no ability to teach our students, no way to contact our people around the world, no way to receive news. By the time our hard-working ISP technicians (wherever they are, God bless 'em) had restored our access, it took me a while to talk myself down to my "it's going to be OK" mindset that I have to cultivate each morning. And also, I didn't get my NPM post written until now, late afternoon. All this to say, there may be days this month when I can't write a post, and that will have to be OK.

Like last year, I want to start this year with a song by Andrew Peterson, "To All the Poets."

To All the Poets
by Andrew Peterson

To all the poets I have known
Who saw the beauty in the commonplace
Saw incarnation in a baby's face
And in a drop of rain the stars
When there was mud and blood and tears
You sang a song at night to calm our fears
You made a moment last a thousand years
You are the poets I have known

To all the poets I have known
You built a kingdom out of sea and sand
You conquered armies with a marching band
You carved a galaxy in stone
You built an altar out of bread
And spent your soul to see the children fed
You wove your heart in every story read
Thank God for poets I have known

And you keep on dreamin'
When the dreams all fade
When friends desert me
You're the ones who stay
To write the prayers when every prayer had been prayed
You are the poets I have known

You turned your tears into a string of pearls
You held your sorrow high to light the world
When I thought I was alone
In every man you saw the boy
The hidden heart the dark could not destroy
Slipped past the dragons with a tale of joy
Thank God for poets I have known

'Cause you keep on dreamin'
When the dreams all fade
When friends desert me
You're the ones who stay
To write the prayers when every prayer had been prayed

You walking wounded of my life
Who bled compassion in the heat of strife
You stood between my heart and Satan's knife
With just the armor of a song
You are the heroes and the brave
Who with a slender pen our passions save
And chisel epitaphs upon the graves
Of all the poets I have known

So keep on dreamin'
Keep on dreamin'
So keep on dreamin'
Keep on dreamin'
Keep on dreamin'

Thanks to Andrew Peterson, one of the poets I have known, and thanks too to Jama, who once again has compiled a list of NPM activities at her blog, Jama's Alphabet Soup. People are so creative and amazing, and at a time like this, what a comfort that is! One of those activities is the Progressive Poem, enjoying its ninth year. I've participated since the beginning, and this year my line is on April 23rd.  Here's the list of where the lines will be hosted each day (notice, there's still one line open, on the 28th):

1 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
2 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, deowriter
4 Liz Steinglass
5 Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at
7 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel, hosted at Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
29 Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces
30 Michelle Kogan 

Donna, at Mainely Write, has today's line, and she created two possibilities for Irene, tomorrow's poet, to choose from.


Kay said...

I missed this last year, Ruth, and am glad you re-shared it. Here is to all the poets--including you! This year, more than some other, is one where whatever we can do will be enough. I'm glad things are going more smoothly for you and your students this time around, but I hate that you have to be on lockdown for a second time in one school year.

Linda B said...

Sorry for the Internet wake-up this am, Ruth, but glad it's back. I remember your tabs & they bring a smile again, rather like browsing through a poetry book, or creating a playlist! Thanks for the song again, a sentiment I think we all hold on to. "You're the ones who stay" really touches me. Best wishes for school again!