Saturday, September 24, 2011

Poetry Friday: Poetry Goes Mainstream?

(A day late on this post, but that's okay!)

Recently discovered in my mailbox:

Included among the coupons, you'll find "gems" such as this:

a pick-me-up perk
how about another cup?
two o'clock delight

and this:

fresh breath on a brush
mint polish for your choppers
make your momma proud

Some questions come to mind:

If the #2 retailer in the world is using poetry to sell Tide, Dasani, and Hefty, does that mean poetry has gone mainstream?

Will the average junk mail recipient really "get" what it's all about?

Are there some ancient Japanese poets rolling over in their graves as they see their beautiful form, written to celebrate the beauty of nature, hijacked to sell trash bags? (I checked the back of the booklet for an apology to Issa or Basho, but found none.)

I guess I don't know the answer. I don't know whether to find it cute or to be cynical about it. I don't know if I should be happy that Target has essentially tricked possibly millions of non-poetry readers into reading poetry.

I'll let you be the judge. Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

The awesome blog Picture Book of the Day hosted the Poetry Friday roundup yesterday. It's not too late to check it out!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poetry Friday: From Under the Pile

My poetry blogging hiatus this summer was a double-edged sword. On the plus side, I got a lot of work done for my little side project (click the snazzy EE logo on the Small Nouns homepage to find out more). However, I was away from poetry for way too long...I missed reading poems. I missed blogging about poems. I'm not exaggerating when I say something was obviously missing from my life. It just wasn't the same.

So now I'm back and another benefit of taking the blogging break is that the poems have piled up. And I've got tons of reading and blogging material to choose from.

This Poetry Friday, I'd like to share one from the bottom of the poems that have piled up, waiting for me to read and write about them. It was one of the first to be delivered to my inbox (thanks to the Poem A Day subscription) earlier this summer. I hope you like it:

by Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, 
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, 
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, 
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of
   the water, 
Or stand under trees in the woods, 
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
   with any one I love, 
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest, 
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, 
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
Or animals feeding in the fields, 
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, 
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
   quiet and bright, 
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring; 
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, 
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

Read the rest of the poem here. I do love Whitman. And miracles. And knowing nothing else but them seems like a good outlook to have.

Poetry Friday today is being hosted by Amy at The Poem Farm and there are so many good poems to read about there today. You've just got to check it out!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Poetry Friday: In Praise of Poignancy

Today seems like a good day to return from hiatus. The television seems intent on reminding me that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is Sunday. There's certainly no escaping it. As a classroom teacher, I have made certain to discuss the events of that day with my students every year at this time. However, I teach 10-11 year olds, children who will never know what that day was like. Alas, we discuss it anyway. They watch TV, too, so I know it's as inescapable for them as it is for me.

In my mind, poetry exists for moments in time such as 9/11/01. Where else can you turn to in such times? How else can you attempt to make sense of something so insensible? Whether it's by reading or writing, the poignancy poetry is capable's a powerful thing. Words are failing me here. I suppose I'm proving my point.

I'm rambling. It's as if I forgot how to blog! For this Poetry Friday, I want to share a poem I shared last year on the 9th anniversary of the attacks, a poem I think every American needs to read:

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martín Espada

for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with the shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

You can read the rest of the poem by clicking here. If you're a teacher and you need other resources to help you teach about 9/11, you should examine these:

Not all are poetry related, but I think all are worthwhile and in all you can find poignant memories and thoughts to read (or write) about.

Secrets and Sharing Soda is where you'll find the Poetry Friday Round-Up. Be sure to check it out. And stay tuned as I dust myself off from hiatus and try to start blogging about poetry again on a more regular basis. There are some subscription options in the sidebar that I hope you consider taking advantage of! Thanks for reading!