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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April is National Poetry Month

What better way to celebrate the month of April than to read, write, and enjoy poetry? Why don't you start scribbling poetic lines that capture your imagination and keen sense of observation? One (if not the best) way to learn something is doing it. Go ahead and try. You'll be amazed at what you did!

Veteran educator E.D. Hirsch Jr., a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, and author and/or editor of more than a dozen books, including "The Core Knowledge" series, and "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know," wrote that ,"one way to bring our children into the spirit of poetry is to read it aloud to them; another is to encourage them to speak it aloud so they can directly experience the sounds of language." Through poetry, children can understand the power of language to create vivid word pictures. "a child's knowledge of poetry should come first from pleasure and only later from analysis," he said.

I love (listening to, and reading and writing simple) poetry. Poems inspire; they can make you smile; they can entertain and also give you (new) meaning to/in life. They can educate and liberate; they can unite, and change, people and the world.

(Thanks to God, I have had the privilege of attending or participating in one of the open-mike poetry readings here in the Hampton Roads area. I've had the chance to meet and hear local poets, too. Years ago, I have had the opportunity to hear and see, in person, one of the former U.S. poet laureates, Robert Pinsky (1995-1997), when he was the guest speaker at a Literary Festival at ODU (Old Dominion University) in Norfolk, VA.)

When I was younger, growing up in the Philippines, we used to memorize and recite short poems in class. Remember those funny "Mother Goose" nursery rhymes? Those tongue-twisting alliterations?

"Hickory, dickory, dock,/ The mouse ran up the clock,/ The clock struck one,/ The mouse ran down,/ Hickory, dickory, dock."

Here's another one: "Hey, diddle, diddle,/ The cat and the fiddle,/ The cow jumped over the moon;/ The little dog laughed/ To see such sport/ And the dish ran away with the spoon."

And here's another from Humpty Dumpty: "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;/ Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;/ All the King's horses/ All the King's men/ Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again."

On a serious note, the month of April is designated as National Poetry Month in the United States. Marie Bullock founded in 1904 the Academy of American Poets "to support American poets and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry." The academy started observing or celebrating the National Poetry Month in 1996 to increase awareness of poetry in the public, and the media, and to encourage more Americans "to enjoy reading and writing poetry, while creating more interest in the art form." To accomplish this, the academy sponsors poetry readings, creates displays in bookstores, gives tips in the teaching of poetry through workshops and on how to teach poetry to different audiences.

Did you know that each year the Library of Congress appoints or designates a Poet Laureate whose mission is to promote the reading and writing of poetry in the United States? According to Wikipedia, this position was modeled on the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Formerly known as the Consultant of the Library of Congress, the present title was devised and authorized by an Act of Congress in 1985. Currently, the Laureate receives a $35,000 annual stipend and gives an annual lecture and reading of his/her poetry and usually introduces poets in the Library's poetry series.

Our present United States Poet Laureate is 84-year old Philip Levine, a native of Detroit, Michigan. Appointed by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in August 2011, Levine, therefore, serves as the nation's official Poet for 2011-2012. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working class Detroit. "Philip Levine is one of America's great narrative poets," Billington said. "His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling 'The Simple Truth'---about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives," added Billington.

Levine has  taught for over 30 years in the English Department at California State University, Fresno, and other institutions of higher learning such as New York University, Columbia, Princeton, University of California, Berlekey, among others. Among his awards include: Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1995) for his work The Simple Truth (1994); National Book Award for Poetry and Los Angeles Times Book Prize (1991) for "What Work Is (1992)"; Ruth Lily Poetry Prize from Modern Poetry Association and the American Council for the Arts (1987); Levinson Prize (1981) from Poetry magazine; Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (1980); National Book award for Poetry (1980) for his book "Ashes: Poems New and Old;" National Book Critics Circle Award (1979) for "Ashes: Poems new and Old---7 Years from Somewhere"; Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize from Poetry (1978); Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize (1977) for "The Names of the Lost" (1975); and American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Frank O'Hara Prize, Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (1973). His poetry book collections include News of the World (2009), Stranger to Nothing: Selected Poems (2006), Breath (2004 and 2006), The Mercy (1999), What Work Is (1992), The Simple Truth (1994 and 1996). He has had English translation work of different authors, too.

On the other hand, the Commonwealth of Virginia has also a poet laureate. The Poet Laureate of Virginia was established on December 18, 1936 by the General Assembly, originally for a term of one year. But later on the procedure was changed. Beginning in 1998, the Governor may appoint a poet laureate from a list of nominees submitted by the Poetry Society of Virginia. Each poet laureate shall serve a term of two years with no restrictions or reappointment. The Virginia General Assembly confirms the governor's appointment. The current Poet Laureate of Virginia is Kelly Cherry, 71, award-winning author and poet, and professor emeritus, who has received numerous literary and academic honors. Her notable works include "We Can Stll Be Friends", "Girl in a Library: On Women Writers and the Writing Life," and "Hazards and Prospects: New and Selected Poems."

As always, thanks YouTube and to the uploaders of the videos I embedded with this blog post. Thanks to Wikipedia, Google, and Blogger.

Well, this is all for now. Until next time around, folks. Thanks for your time. Take care and have a pleasant Wednesday, everyone!-chris a. quilpa, 18April2012

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