Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Oh, Kaye!" Celebrates National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.

"This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, National Poetry Month has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture."  Read more here -

For the past few years, including this year, I've tried to remember to post a poem at my Meanderings and Muses every day and have found it to be one of my favorite things to do.  

Seeking out new poems and new poets brings a little light into my life.

I spend a lot of time, like many of you, frustrated by events we seem to not have much control over.  World events, political events, even those things closer and more personal right in our own homes that seem to try to knock us down once in awhile.  And I rant about those events by writing about them at my Meanderings and Muses quite a bit.  Writing is a saving grace for me.  I know it is for a lot of us.

I try to temper those rants with some "feel good" pieces, and I think that's how the annual poetry posts came to be.


In celebration of April - National Poetry Month - I'd like to share one of my favorite pieces of poetry with you -  - - -

Variation on a Theme by King David

Praise to you!
Praise to you my snappy love!

Praise you in clean socks on a Queens-bound
train; praise you
for your famous avocado
sandwiches; Praise you from Brooklyn to blasphemy!

I've called the mayor to praise you; & a third-
base coach; even
that no-neck accountant
who doesn't have the decency to nod hello
has agreed to praise you!

Praise you with bongos and fine fancy
tea; praise you
with rhumba, tango & marmalade; praise
you with your knickers at your knees!

I praise you on Flag Day, & on whichever equinox
allows for the balancing of eggs;
I praise you with eggs!
Brown ones & jumbo & Faberge Tiffany blue!

On the white of your wrist I praise you;
on the vacuumed throw rug; I praise you full-
page on Sunday! With faxes
& foxgloves & brushed cotton sheets;
with sky-write & timbrel &

wink! Let every soul
in the Battery Tunnel honk
her horn to praise you! Praise you
with ripe limes & wrestling mats;
praise you tax-free with agates and tin foil
& all sparkly things!

Praise you with foggy spectacles and Wisconsin green cheese!
Praise you to the afternoon of orthopedic sneakers;
praise you from poinsettia to piccolo!
Praise you & praise you & praise you!

My love,
from Brooklyn to blasphemy I praise you!

-- L. B. Thompson

How about you, Dear Reds, is there a piece of poetry that has a special place in your heart?  One you go to at particular times for solace, or even "just 'cause?"  A favorite piece you'd care to share?


  1. Oh, Kaye, “Variation on a Theme by King David” is laugh-out-loud funny . . . .

    My all-time most favorite poem:
    Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
    by Robert Frost

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound's the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

  2. thanks for reminding us of poetry day Kaye! Love your selection, and Joan's too.

    I am especially fond of Bill Collins's poem called THE LANYARD.

    Maybe we should have a write a poem a month day here on JRW?

  3. NO NO NO! I could no more write a poem than I could juggle six tire irons. Every word matters. Every line break.

    I love this poem, Kaye - wonderful choice. A hosanna to a city near and dear to my heart. And it calls out to be read aloud.

  4. David Wagoner's The Poets Agree To Be Quiet By the Swamp

    They hold their hands over their mouths
    And stare at the stretch of water.
    What can be said has been said before:
    Strokes of light like herons' legs in the cattails,
    Mud underneath, frogs lying even deeper.
    Therefore, the poets may keep quiet.
    But the corners of their mouths grin past their hands.
    They stick their elbows out into the evening,
    Stoop, and begin the ancient croaking.

  5. Another Frost poem for me as it is so symbolic of my life

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I
    I took the one less traveled by
    And that has made all the difference

    I often wonder what my life would have been like if I'd stayed in England with the BBC and not accepted that offer to go to Australia.


  6. Nice to find some fellow poetry lovers! I think certain pieces do speak to us and forge a memory, much like certain pieces of music.

    And yes - this piece does beg to read loud, doesn't it, Hallie?!

  7. Kaye, thanks for the reminder that it's National Poetry Month! I'm going to read a poem a day, at least. Already today you've got me reading Adrienne Rich and Gerard Manley Hopkins. What a pair those two make!

    Here's a Sunday poem from me:

    This perfect Sunday
    always so full of
    promise and things meant
    to do
    is half gone
    mopping spilled tea
    what can I make of this?


    I started out writing poetry, by the way. But even decent poetry takes so much focus and concentration. It's hard to do that when buried in a novel.

  8. Debs! I love this! And yes, I can completely and totally believe you're a poet because it shows up in your novels and that, m'dear, is one of the things many of us love best about your work.

  9. If I simply think: poetry, there is a sense of dread.

    In the 4th or 5th grade I was taught by a nun who believed there was a body of poetry that everyone should know by heart. It wasn't just a matter of memorizing each poem, but being able to pick up at whichever line she pointed at you and recite from there until she pointed at someone else. It was the most stress I'd experienced at that age.

    So, I am not by nature a lover of poetry, but there are some poems and some poets I admire. We just passed the time of year when I re-read John Updike's "Seven Stanzas at Easter," which I first read at a time when a hardcover poetry book cost $4 - a long time ago. I'm not certain what the copyright issues might be, so here is one of the links I found when I Googled the title:

    My favorite poet for many years has been Galway Kinnell. It's hard to choose a favorite, but "That Silent Evening" is close to the top of any list I'd make and I can find links for that one.

    Looking at that page, I see a word has been changed in the last sentence. My book says "casts" where the text at that link (more recent) says "shines."

    "Then I will go back
    to that silent evening, when the past just managed
    to overlap the future, if only by a trace,
    and the light doubles and casts
    through the dark a sparkling that heavens the earth."

    My favorite poetry reading was by Anne Sexton in the mid-70's - though not for any logical reason. She was wearing a long narrow skirt, barefoot; her voice sounded like she smoked two packs a day, and she did not drone as some poets do. I was hypnotized from the moment she walked onto the stage.

  10. Lovely.
    I return to Lewis Carroll's Scarmoges (one part)

    "And did you really walk," said I,
    "On such a dreadful night?
    I always fancied ghosts could fly--
    If not exactly in the sky,
    Yet at a fairish height."

    "It's very well," he said,"for kings
    to soar above the earth:
    But Phantoms often find that wings--
    Like may other pretty things--
    Cost more than they are worth."

  11. Thanks for the poetry today, Kaye! I'm happy to see a couple of my favorites here by Frost.

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  13. YOu know I love Ithaka, but it's too long to print.. And I too love Frost--do you know Maple? We talk about the importance of names so often as authors. Here's just the beginning--highly recommended. Bring tissues.

    by Robert Frost

    Her teacher's certainty it must be Mabel
    Made Maple first take notice of her name.
    She asked her father and he told her, "Maple—
    Maple is right."
    "But teacher told the school
    There's no such name."
    "Teachers don't know as much
    As fathers about children, you tell teacher.
    You tell her that it's M-A-P-L-E.
    You ask her if she knows a maple tree.
    Well, you were named after a maple tree.
    Your mother named you. You and she just saw
    Each other in passing in the room upstairs,
    One coming this way into life, and one
    Going the other out of life—you know?
    So you can't have much recollection of her.
    She had been having a long look at you.
    She put her finger in your cheek so hard
    It must have made your dimple there, and said,
    'Maple.' I said it too: 'Yes, for her name.'
    She nodded. So we're sure there's no mistake.
    I don't know what she wanted it to mean,

    It goes on, beautifully. Beautifully. And then, finally, almost disturbingly.

    and thank you for this, dear Kaye.

  14. Oh, Libby, yes! Love Scarmoges!!

    Kathy, you are so welcome - an yes - Frost (sigh).

    Hank, this is one I am not familiar with! So! Dear one, I am off to find it to read it in its entirety. (SO jealous of your view from your room in LA!!!!!)

  15. My favorite poet changes from day to day, but Mary Oliver is always enchanting. I even named a blog based on a line from one of her poems that really stuck with me.

    Happy National Poetry Month!

  16. Mary Oliver - oh,yes!!!

    Three Things to Remember by Mary Oliver
    As long as you’re dancing, you can
    break the rules.
    Sometimes breaking the rules is just
    extending the rules.
    Sometimes there are no rules.

  17. Love that L.B. Thompson poem! Here's one I've been reading a lot lately. By David Tucker, a journalist and wonderful poet.

    after Jane Kenyon’s “Happiness”
    by David Tucker

    Happiness is a stubborn old detective who won’t give up on us
    though we have been missing a long, long time,
    who stops in towns where we once lived and asks about us
    in a grocery where we shopped ten years ago, who visits
    the drugstore in the city where it always rained and walks
    the hallways of that house by the river, leafing through
    the newspaper left on the table, noting the date.
    When the search party has called it off, when the dogs
    have been put up and our names stuffed in cabinets
    at the back of the station house, happiness is still out there,
    staring up at a road sign in a distant town,
    studying a map by cigarette, weeks away, then days.
    A breeze smelling of the river enters the room though
    no river is near; the house is quiet and calm for no reason;
    the search does end, the detective does finally sleep, far away
    from anything he imagined, his dusty shoes still on.