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National Poetry Month


National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

2020 Poem of the Week

Each Monday, we’ll reveal our poet and poem of the week starting on April 6 at 10 a.m.! National Poetry Month content will be available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so follow along on your favorite platform.

This week we welcome Caroline N. Simpson, 2020 Individual Artist Fellow, Literature: Poetry as she recites her poem, “Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.”

Check out our Instagram for additional content: “The Cicada Wasp Killer“; “Poetry is Important“; and her quote.

4/9/2020

This week we celebrate four Scholastic Art & Writing national medal student winners in honor of National Poetry Month! Poems on our website by 10 a.m. each day, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14.

April 14 – Iris Hwang, senior at St. Andrew’s School

Sounds with No Letters

“If I close my eyes and listen to you, I can tell

You’re not American, you know?”

The white boy at camp said,

Like he’s telling me I have dust on my jacket.

For the rest of camp,

I over enunciate each word

Stressing each syllable

stac-ca-to.

The Korean creeps up my throat to coat my r’s,

To twist the crisp ‘th’ in ‘the cat’ to ‘duh cat.’

When my v’s regress into ‘b’s,

My tongue can’t grasp the geometry of these new sounds

That my first language has no letters for,

My voice crumpling, folding underneath the weight

Of the half-languages in my mouth.

This is also a study in shame.

When I mark that English is my first language

On every white box

Of every standardized test.

When my aunt gives birth an ocean away,

And Google’s translation comes out stilted, mechanical, and

My joy falls from me in stale Korean

Another distance between us.

My friends snicker at the waiter

Who asks if they want “duh chicken”

In halting English, and I

Examine the menu,

Afraid to mispronounce my anger.

April 15 – Christine Chen, a junior at St. Andrew’s School

Raining Leaves
At eight in the morning
four ginkgo trees
still dressed in summer green
rained their leaves
on this breeze-less November day
all at the same time
as if they agreed to it
in a secret ginkgo meeting.
Did they tap each other
on the roots as a reminder
of this important moment?
Did they whisper on a breeze
before the dawn could break
about their plan to shed?
Or did they make pinky promises
many a summer ago
with their tender tendrils
curled together, holding each other,
to enter the winter all at once,
four of them all as one?
The ginkgoes stand tall and watch
the leaves part their bodies
and embrace the ground,
their mother, once more.
If you listen closely,
you can hear them crying.

To the couple in the kitchen across from my window
How I envy you
Bathed in the fluorescent light of your apartment kitchen
On a rainy November afternoon
When the city is a muddled ball of wet and cold
You are warm
In the company of each other
And your orange cat
The little tigress of the household
Marching on the snow-white counter
Under the bridge of your arms
Arched in the creation of a hearty meal
Fit for this wet winter day
Made long by work and rush-hour traffic
And the endless wait to finally be home again
With your cat perched on the window sill
Staring at the rain in a trance
Waiting for you too
To fill this space together
To make it a home together
To be the sun for one another
In this season without a sun
I hope winter stays
So each day you can feel the spring in your bodies
In your summer love
I hope you love each other for a long time
I hope you remember to tell these stories to the kids
Your kids
Your grandkids
While you still cradle each other at seventy
But first look
Dinner is ready

April 16 – Samantha Oliver, a sophomore at Sussex Academy of Arts & Sciences

On Birdsong and Love: An Abecedarian

An epiphany:

Birds nest on the rooftops of cathedrals.

Chicks snuggle against the lining of the nest and into the wings of their mothers.

Dining on scraps of the people below, they survive on other people’s garbage.

Even as they walk the ground, they soar through the air.

Freedom.

Great thinkers say that the mind is like a bird, but I believe that it is the soul that takes flight.

Hymns are to humans what warbles are to birds.

I wonder if it was the birds who first sensed the fire. If they saw the sparks usher the ancient structure to a collapse.

Just like that, it becomes a house of matches.

Kindness from strangers is the beginning of love.

Love is like a birdsong: it sounds ordinary but it’s noticed when it’s gone.

Murmuration is the collective noun for starlings.

Not much is left of the Cathedral.

Overthinkers: People whose thoughts are higher than others.

Pilgrims who come to cathedrals leave their bread behind for the birds.

Questions unanswered become prayers.

Riots in the streets surround the fire stained walls.

Scar: A shadow of a hurt. A burden left behind.

Today it seems as though the City of Lights had turned gray.

Until the pulse of the city is heard throughout the streets. A heartbeat.

Very few stop to listen, but when they do, they hear the birdsong.

When it happens, when the fires come, you must remember the birds on top of the cathedral. Eventually, they come home.

X is a variable, a signature, a place, a destination, a person, a hope.

Your heart is approximately the size and weight of a bird. It beats its own birdsong.

Zephyrs: soft breezes that blow everything back into place, winds that bring everyone back to life.

April 17 – Julie Griswold, a junior at Tatnall School

Aegotheles savesi
(the New Caledonian owlet-nightjar) Click images below to read.

This week we welcome Kari Ann Ebert, 2020 Individual Artist Fellow, Literature: Poetry as she recites her poem, “This is the Poem Where I Rewrite your Story.”

Check out our Instagram for additional content!

4/22/2020

 

Spring Can’t be Quarantined

By Mack Wathen

The sun rises early

The birds awaken and sing

The new warmth brings growth

The Daffodils shine atop tall green spires – Yellow and White

Crocuses join in harmony with a contrast of stunning purple

Like fireworks, Forsythia and Cherry Blossoms explode in the sky in bursts of yellow, pink and white

Spring has come in all its glory

Bask in the new Spring

Spring can’t be quarantined

Power of the arts

Let’s return to the place where humanity starts
Using the power of the arts
To place joy in hurting hearts
To help heal the trauma
To build our armor

To find atonement
To rescue us from this moment

Let’s close our eyes to the world’s lies
Open our ears to the world’s cries
Escape to a place where we don’t have to hide
A sanctuary
Where the arts are alive

Let’s take the power of the arts across every border
Place it in the hands of the world’s sons and daughters

From poets on city streets
To distance learning art teachers
Visual artist lined along our beaches
Into our detention centers and prisons
Where the power of the arts unleashes

Artist helping our world to heal
Art therapist helping others to rebuild
Art showing veterans
The power of me
The power of we
Art overpowering PTSD
Silencing the cries of anxiety
Using our inner gifts
To overcome hardships

The power of the arts
Is free
Freedom from hatred
Freedom from division
Every man, woman and child
Free from the demands to conform
The power of the arts
Creatively making a new norm

Our efforts to change the world starts
With our unity
Collectively leaving our mark
With the power of the arts

Twin Poets
Al Mills & Nnamdi Chukwuocha
State of Delaware- 17th Poets Laureate

 


2019 Poem of the Week

April 29, 2019

Al Mills

Delaware Poet Laureate

Wilmington Our City

Wilmington our city big and small – in the middle of it all – for the love of the children let’s dare to dream of a city so grand & regal – it’s adored by its people

A city with the strength and humility – to place pride and hope -where there is crime and dope

Wilmington the best city in Delaware
Big enough to make a difference, yet small enough to see who really cares

Look at the love, the commitment on their faces as they drive-by or stare out the windows on the Dart bus – there is a desire to do better in the hearts of each of us – you’ll be hard-pressed to find another city like ours across this nation – so big / yet-so small we can fix things without the red tape or procrastination

Wilmington our city in the middle of it all so big / yet so small – that it could flood with love and burst it seams – a passionate place pushing children and teens toward their dreams – in Wilmington where the problem solvers unite –
where you see all sides of life
from 5th & Madison to the fancy mansions on Greenhill from the Riverfront to Riverside to Eastside to the Westside –
Pictures of faith & great people of grit as the teens say or city is lit
Wilmington a place for seniors & teens and everyone in between –
Wilmington our city so big so small Wilmington has it all
Kind residents / good people who want to plan to harvest & build gardens
just smile as April showers
bring forth the May flowers
Wilmington a city with flare
You can can go have a beer in Trolley Square
Or visit the Riverfront to dine
Or go relax at the IMAX with a glass of wine
Wilmington a city who’s entertainment is tough knotched
Where you can visit museums see some art or catch a-game with the 87ers, Blue Coats or Blue Rocks
Wilmington the wonderful city
so big so small
in the middle of it all
Wilmington just trust and believe we have no idea – how great our small -big city can be

By
Twin Poet
Al Mills

April 22, 2019

Iris Hwang

2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Gold Key Medalist

Glass Boxes

Here in the glass boxes on the third floor
Of a university gallery

 

Black glitter encloses photographs
Of Asian bodies America harvested from across the Pacific

 

To sow train tracks
Into hundreds of miles of its flesh.

 

The museum tour plays over again and again like a prayer,
and my body no longer recalls the feeling

 

Of train rails snapping into place
With immigrant bones that stretch from coast to coast.

 

Because the only difference
between memorial and exhibition

 

is the softness of the body,
Displayed for prying eyes.

 

The very first yellow-rumped warbler who couldn’t sing,
A spectacle, an oddity, an other,

 

Wait until it stiffens and rots into the history
into the past tense, never present

 

Until the only blame is swallowed by
Dead wood floors and glass boxes

 

bound by the ghosts of black glitter.

April 1, 2019

Sophia Zhao

2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Gold Key Medalist

My Poem:

This past year I visited a Chinese orphanage. The building itself was quaint, speckled with greenery and hand-painted murals, divided into libraries and miniature classrooms. It was surprisingly pleasant.

I asked an orphan if she liked it here. She twirled back and forth on her two slippered feet, then ran away.

 

Qingsong Children

At daybreak, daffodil and gerbera lip the concrete wall,

one line whole, curled up stemless beside the oaken tree.

The children awake rootless, old husks still

worn and stepping barefoot onto chilled mulch. They

 

spread across in the sandbox, retracing dampen soil into

fimbriate frames; unearthing names that were once

eroded away by a fateful wind. A gallery: where the

 

daughters and sons siphon off nectar from

the whiteness of lilies– indefinite and incised,

unmangled by the insects when hung to dry.

They devour peaches as devotions, then

 

search for another ripeness in their phased blossoms;

outside rosy fringe, escaping from its heart

pure soreness, slowly dripping. The pavement stains,

 

bitter branched rivulets flowing from serrate veins into

unfillable fissures; yet ground remains arid and

hooked to earth. Cicadas chirr the still forest.

In the warmth of dusk, the children

 

shadow into segments. They creep to the meadow,

crouching into supple bulbs, arms elbow-deep in

rigid dirt. Like rough gardeners– unburying themselves

 

as the seedless: a kindred order decaying

among the golden buttercups.


轻松 (Qīngsōng) [adj.] – relaxed, relieved.

2018 Poem of the Week

This week we introduce Gemelle John, 2018 Emerging Artist Fellow in Literature: Poetry

Artist Statement:

I write often about the ways we manifest our grief. I think we’re in a particularly taxing time where we have to learn to feel these constant agitations, personal or perspective-based, but we also need to disconnect from it or we won’t survive.  It’s a constant balance of feeling empathy and allowing it for ourselves.

How the living go slowly

This grief

 

A love, knowingly flesh toned

until dust

sours the way your lips

borrow air

 

You swallow like

consumption has ever made

made you less afraid

of losing everything

 

color photographs in

with hollow songs

and fingerprints

laugh a memory over a sob

and often

a shiver is your sigh

 

you wait for it to lay cracked and

callused like

your knuckles soft and smelling of heat

your other friend eats

salad for three days straight

 

maybe you’ll tell her how nothing

she changes is that seismic

how fear isn’t that contemplative

how dying is

 

never as tense

as the resting palms

 

that another word for

this cycle is lust and

that lust has never

coated a bone

enough to make a lung

See former Poet Laureate, JoAnn Balingit’s full length column on Gemelle John here.

This week we introduce David P. Kozinski, 2018 Established Artist Fellow in Literature: Poetry

Artist Statement:

Each poem makes its own rules. The poet’s job is to find it, shape it so it moves on sturdy legs and speaks with confidence, and then send it out into the world. Someone said, “The poem is the arm, the poet the sleeve from which the arm emerges,” or some such. It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s pretty good.

My Theory of Relativity

This is about the kindness

of a dog and how a human should be,

a little about cruelty,

but mostly about scale    – how vast

it all appears; the indifference

of the bluest fields

and the nearest, newest moon.

 

Friends, when I say this is about

I mean history; the day and night, sleep

and travel, tenderness and the grinder.

In another hour the sands might still,

the glass stopper itself; hands

gesture to nothing

 

but nothing unstopped stays the same.

The silo empties as regularly

as a lab rat’s feeder.

Whatever first lifts us up

from then on pulls down – the perpetual

drizzle, the unsolvable

argument of a trench seen from space

and the chasm so deep under water

where every story runs in its own time.

 

Meet David P. Kozinski and Shannon Connor Winward, 2018 Emerging Artist Fellow, Fiction at their upcoming reading at the 2nd Saturday Poets series in July!

This week we introduce Sophia Zhao, 2018 Scholastic Writing Awards Gold Medalist, Poetry.

Artist Statement:

Poetry is a register of my thoughts, liberated. It allows me to share stories through unconventional, sometimes paradoxical language where death can be more meaningful than life and gardens outlive their growers. It is where I can celebrate my culture or critique my history, pushing me to speak and study with hard consideration and empathy. It is a deep foxhole blurred at my corners of reality and fantasy, memoir and fiction– where the real is unreal, driving me to depict not the truth, but a perspective.

revolution

there was
once
a field
of mandarin oranges and
mandarin ducks on the
cold, naked
ground–

where grandma’s
apartment is.
the way
baba tells it, larks flew there
as if searching
for paradise. their

heavenly kingdom;
velvet leaves–robes on branches–
for royal reality,

disguised
longevity.
saccharine smiles.
bona fide oak and maple and
orange. no
roots, just tart sugar. with

fingertips in barkholes,
pencils
skewered,
fervor crushing copper rush–
roaring pulp an
unaccomplished
truth,
unripe boys and girls
tanned, left in
sticky dust.

he tells me to imagine
my fingernails stained.
something like
honey
that hurts–
loosely
staunch.

i imagine

baba’s eyes,
as acrylic as his country’s
vermilion rind.


devotion

at the cusp of integrity a deaf goddess asks:
what do you make of it?
naked boars amongst wild boys,
and girls who clutch gala–

trailing with fake momentum under eternal
gravity, to sideways freefall. there
is a dead beagle on the highway’s edge,
sunken into calcium and

hoping that vultures are prey.
mangled. collapsed into slippery
sleep and factory smoke.
listening to truth– the consummation

of invisible petroleum and flying
cicadas. if we believed in the healer,
dead hearts powering dried blood,
barbed wire would be laced with camellias,

countryside twine to encapsulate
noble dogwood. young people should go
beetle-hunting ghostly, so as to skip
celestial sundays. for those cold

peals of his windchime: unsettled
against stagnant wind, an
overwhelming flood purging the
palace’s fake divinity.

This week we introduce Dominique Kendus, 2018 Scholastic Writing Awards Gold and American Voices Medalist, Poetry.

Artist Statement:

Poetry is what forces me to find the beauty in everything, no matter how small or mundane. It pushes me to turn normal, everyday occurrences into something much larger and more profound. It is a tool that helps me to better appreciate life and relationships I’ve formed. It is a part of what makes me who I am. So what does poetry mean to me? Absolutely everything.

Light and Dark

all we have to separate the mind from the body
is light and dark, the stretching of god’s hands

 

over the world and ourselves. sometimes I imagine
that even the sun asks to be tucked in at night because she

 

doesn’t want to fall asleep alone either. and there lies the
ultimatum. her fears versus ours. but how could we expect god

 

to refuse another bed time story: a chance to be heard,
a chance to say “I know exactly why you exist, I know

 

why you need to be touched just to make sure
that you are still here.” he knows we are not all light.

 

I know a boy so empty his father’s fists
pass right through him as if punching the dust

 

from his ribcage. his broken breath a reminder
that he still has something to lose in this world.

 

and I know a father broken and praying to a god
he cannot recognize as his own,

 

holding the darkness in his church-shaped hands
which soften in daylight.

 

he kisses the blood off his stained glass knuckles
and prays for morning. his god is heavy with

 

the weight of history, with the burden we know as genesis.
but how could the body, graceful and vulnerable, refuse to touch

 

darkness. how could the body not repeat its own muscle
memory like a communal prayer, the repetition of beliefs

 

that course through its folded hands. and how could the body,
almightily dark and wholly light, refuse to know that it is still here.

This week we introduce the Delaware Poets Laureate, also known as the Twin Poets.

Celebrate Locally

To celebrate locally, we’ll feature one “Poem of the Week” each Monday written or recited by a local Delaware poet. We’ll reveal the week’s poet on Facebook, so check back here mid-morning for the artist’s statement and full length poem.

Check out DelawareScene.com for additional literary and poetry events now, soon, and near you.

Follow Us

       
  

 

Division Programs

Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest

Delaware Poet Laureate

Delaware Writers Retreat (biennial)

 

Regional Resources

Delaware Poetry Review

Delaware Writers Studio

Wilmington Writers Conference

Lewes Writers Conference

Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild

 

National Resources

Academy of American Poets

Poetry Foundation

 

Arts Opportunities

 

 


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