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.
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.
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.
This week we introduce Gemelle John, 2018 Emerging Artist Fellow in Literature: Poetry
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.
A love, knowingly flesh toned
sours the way your lips
You swallow like
consumption has ever made
made you less afraid
of losing everything
color photographs in
with hollow songs
laugh a memory over a sob
a shiver is your sigh
you wait for it to lay cracked and
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
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.
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.
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.
of mandarin oranges and
mandarin ducks on the
baba tells it, larks flew there
as if searching
for paradise. their
velvet leaves–robes on branches–
for royal reality,
bona fide oak and maple and
roots, just tart sugar. with
fingertips in barkholes,
fervor crushing copper rush–
roaring pulp an
unripe boys and girls
tanned, left in
he tells me to imagine
my fingernails stained.
as acrylic as his country’s
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.
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.
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.
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.