Column: Spring, poetry is in the air

• Originally published in the Kane County Chronicle on April 2, 2009

It seems right that National Poetry Month is in April.

For eons, poetry (good and bad) has been used to woo during the first signs of spring.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (And then you start ripping up flowers. Ahhh, spring.)

Naturally, we should pick this month to celebrate poetry in all of its forms.

According to the Academy of American Poets (as opposed to the Academy of American Retired Poets), National Poetry Month started in 1996 and now is held every April, when people around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

I don’t know whether I agree with the “vital place” part, but I do enjoy poetry, particularly that of Billy Collins – whose poem “On Turning Ten” is probably my favorite piece of writing ever.

When I was younger, I loved to write poetry. I probably wrote about 100 poems a year in high school – almost all of which were of the “wow, this is really bad” variety. But every once in a while I’d write one that even today I can look back on and say, “you know, I wouldn’t completely gag if this was read out loud to someone.”

Writing a decent poem is one of the best feelings in the world.

A good poem is like a breath of fresh air after being cooped up inside a building with fluorescent lights on a nice, sunny day. It just refreshes you.

The Chronicle should do its part to promote poetry, which could become lost in this age of cell phone texting. “2 roads divrged. Took 1 less travld. Made diffrnce.”

So, at the end of this month, we’re going to devote some of the Neighbors section to poetry.

In the Friday, April 24 issue of The Chronicle, we’ll print your poems, selected by me and a few others. They can be haikus, sonnets or villanelles. They can be short, long or just the right size. (Though for space reasons, I would ask that you consider keeping your poems more haiku than “The Wasteland.”)

Also, please e-mail me your poems. You can send them through the mail if you have no other recourse, but it will make our job a lot easier if we receive them through e-mail. You can send them to jgrace@kcchronicle.com. Be sure to include your name and phone number so we can confirm the authorship.

How do I look forward to seeing your poems? Let me count the ways.

Joe Grace is the editor of The Chronicle. You can write to him at jgrace@kcchronicle.com or call him at 630-845-5368.

Editor’s note:

Poetry time: I can’t ask others to submit their poems without displaying one of my own. Here’s a poem I wrote in college for class in what we’ll call my blue period. This is embarrassing. Hopefully yours are much better than mine.

At Least I Still Have You This Valentine’s

Poor, miserable, lonely Teddy bear

forever holding my unwanted heart

between his paws. A cotton tear

rolls down his face as he watches her part.

It’s not your fault she didn’t want you, buddy.

You were perfect. Cute, cuddly, wanting

nothing but love. The problem rests with me

I say as she stalks off holding nothing.

We’ll find another girl, I promise Teddy.

You’ll see. Someone else will want to be

our Valentine. At least I hope that she

exists somewhere out there in the breeze.

So off we go, Teddy and I, to find

some other girl to be our Valentine.

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