April is national poetry month, and since the folks who sponsor it make it ridiculously easy to read more poetry, I’ve signed up for their poem-a-day e-mail. I will also participate in the Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 14th (just prior to Tax Return in the Mail day) in which people are encouraged to carry their favorite poem with them.
I’m still deciding what mine will be. Mathew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” holds a special place in my heart, but I’ve also always been partial to Dylan Thomas’ gorgeous “Fern Hill.” Sadly, with the exception of those poems placed before me in the New Yorker or Harper’s, I’m embarrassed to admit that I rarely read poetry, at least of the grown-up variety. My preschooler loves Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, A.A. Milne, and Lewis Caroll, the sillier and more tongue twist-y the poem, the better. It’s clear that rhyming, meter, assonance, consonance and sheer pleasure in wordplay in general come pretty naturally to kids. But at some point or another, even for the very bookish, the habit of poetry seems to fall by the wayside. Despite being surrounded by literary types, I know few people who read poetry for pleasure, fewer still who read contemporary poets, and fewer still who actually buy books of poetry. It’s no secret that the novel has eclipsed the poem as a literary form, and I have my own theories about why this is, but why do you suppose poetry has suffered such loss of “market share?” I’d also be pleased if you’d share the name (or a link to) your favorite poem.