Tag Archives: Academy of American Poets

Poetry

Edward Hirsch

Poetry rises out of one solitude to meet another in recognition and connection. It companions us. (Edward Hirsch)

A postcard arrived this week from the academy of american poets in New York. I make a small donation each year for the pleasure of their daily poem in my inbox. The quote was against a background of black tree trunks in snow. The machinery in the P.O. sorting office has scuffed the postcard, but I am glad to have it.

It made me think of other definitions of poetry and poetry about companions. Looking in my folders, I came across an old poem which was homework set by our tutor, the late Linda Chase. She asks us to personify an abstract concept and then write about two types of people who are opposites. The poem seems to me highly relevant to our times.

The twins

The older one by a few minutes, she’d come
to the door and be the first to greet you.
Her bright eyes shine, her cheeks are red,
but there is an edge to her fixed smile.
She sings nursery rhymes out of tune,
whistles through cracked teeth,
she gives and then takes back.
Many have been taken in by False Hope.

At dawn we’ll enter, climb the back stairs.

They lie in their bed, both still asleep.
The sun travels across the blanket
and lights up her face.
She makes soft puffing noises,
like secrets whispered in a dream.
I’ll touch her shoulder gently to wake her,
while you watch for movement
in the other bed: the grunting sounds,
the claw-like hand clutching the sheets.

Soon Hope will walk with us,
small steps on grass covered in dew.

Refrigerator, 1957

To help me get back into writing, I got out 52. Write a poem a week. Start now. Keep going. The book originated in the 52 Project by Jo Bell and guest poets. I opened it at random and got to Prompt No. 15 titled Bell, Book and Candle. This is a prompt on writing about the unnoticed object.

The second sample poem Refrigerator, 1957 is by the American poet Thomas Lux. As synchronicity would have it, today is the first anniversary of his death. He was born in 1946 on the dairy farm his father owned. On poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets, I watched a short video In Memoriam 2017 which had a picture and a short quote by each of the US poets who died last year.

Adding that date to an ordinary object already makes it less ordinary. It tells us the perspective is that of an eleven-year old boy. More like a vaultyou pull the handle out it starts. There is humour: not a place to go in hope or hunger. Then the poem zooms in, heart red, sexual red, neon red, on that jar of Maraschino cherries. The same jar there through a childhood of dull dinners… Then we go down the timeline to grandparents, pig farm in Bohemia. The poem ends and because you do not eat/ that which rips your heart with joy.