For National Poetry Month, some poetry news
Updates on some NaPoMo activities:
1. First, I learned this week that the Library of Congress has made a staggering 2,000 recordings from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature available to stream online, for the first time ever. The newly digitized recordings span 75 years of poetry readings and performances, most of which were previously only available “on magnetic tape reels that [could] only be listened to at the library.” Until now! According to Hyperallergic, “The material includes readings by former US Poet Laureates and Consultants Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as a 1971 lecture by Kurt Vonnegut, a 1984 talk by Ray Bradbury, a 1959 interview with Robert Frost, and readings by Audre Lorde and Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz.” New readings will be added on a monthly basis.
2. Next, the wonderful poet Jane Hirshfield, who has had work included in Best American Poetry seven times (!), gave a talk at Vanderbilt University on revising poetry. One of the lecture’s attendees summarized some of Hirshfield’s advice for a post at Upper Rubber Boot, and there are so many great tips here that I had to share them. Here are some highlights of things to ask yourself as you’re revising a poem:
- What does the poem actually say on the page? Is it saying what it wants to say? Is it confused?
- Would saying less be stronger?
- Does the poem know more than I did when I started writing it? Did I discover anything?
- Is it ethical?
- Is there anything that doesn’t belong?
- Should it go out into the world or is it the seed for another poem?
Are you still reading this, or are you off to talk to your poems for a bit?
3. Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 30! Sponsored by poets.org and National Poetry Month, “Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day as schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets.”
What poem will you carry in your pocket on the 30th?
4. Claudia Rankine has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry for her incredible book Citizen: An American Lyric. The LA Times calls Citizen “an achingly contemporary meditation on race.” The book has also been a finalist for 2014 National Book Award in Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, winner of Poets and Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and one of the Millions Most Anticipated Books. In other words, this one is a must-read.
5. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated National Poetry Month with a White House reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Elizabeth Alexander.