Monday, April 2, 2018

A Month of Verse to Call our Own—National Poetry Month 2018

It’s National Poetry Month Again!  If you have been visiting here for a while, you know what that means—it’s our eighty annual round-up of daily doses of verse!  If you are new, here’s the scoop.  Every day all month I will feature poets and their poems.  I aim to be as broad and inclusive as possible to style, subject, period, gender, race, and neglected voices.  I don’t want just a parade of the usual dead white men, but a lot of them did write some damn fine poetry, so they have their place here too.  As always, selections follow my own tastes and whims.  Yours may be different.  But I am open toeager for—suggestions, especially for contemporary writers.  I do not subscribe to dozens of little magazines or prowl the internet for poetry posts.  I often only stumble on new and unknown poets and I am sure I miss some great stuff.  Please feel free to turn me on to some—or be bold and submit your own.  I don’t and can’t promise to use everything.
This year Easter delayed this introductory post, but I did get it started with a short poem of my own.  But now on to better stuff!
Although I try not to be one note, current events often influence choices, particularly from contemporary poets and those often excluded or neglected.  Two years ago we featured poems by and about refugees, and it included some dazzling stuff.  Last year we highlighted Poems of Resistance.  This year we will hear voices of our young people and their inspiring movement to save their own lives by challenging America’s gun culture.  And we will listen to women who have barred their souls with #MeToo and shaken ugly patriarchy as well at the continuing declaration the #BlackLivesMatter.
Let’s begin with a poem that circulated on Facebook in early March just days after the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Katie Houde is a student at Rockland High School in Massachusetts.

Today's poet Katie Houde, a student at Rockland High School in Massechusetswith an accademic award.
Bulletproof Teen
Run, if you can
Hide, if you can’t
If neither, fight
The fighting won’t save you
It’s to save the next class, the next hall
It’s to give them a couple of more seconds
To get there, to stop it
I am a child, a teenager
But, I am also a bulletproof vest
A diversion
Alighting chance for the others
Home in the form of a distraction
I am blood and flesh
But I need to be Kevlar and fabric
Minimal casualties
Minimal children dead
Minimal little girls and boys
Minimal college applicants
Minimal honors students
And minimal teachers and coaches
But not none.
The Constitution doesn’t allow for none.
That document is living
But will I be?

—Katie Houde

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