April 2011 is America’s chance to discover its wealth of poetry and maybe if it’s not there already, inspire a love of poetry that could last forever. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets National poetry month was inspired by the success of Black History Month (Feb) and Women's History Month (March) when in 1995 The Academy convened group of publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary organizations, poets, and teachers to discuss whether the same idea would work for poetry. The first one was held in 1996 and now every year thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events all with the one aim – to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture, although I’m from Europe (England) any excuse to celebrate, what for me has been a life long love is valid, so for my first contribution to National Poetry Month, here is a Poem from an American Poet.
I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hotplate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that it is better for your mental health if somebody
eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal with John keats.
Keats said I was right to invite him: due to its glutinous texture, gluey
lumpishness, hint of slime, and unusual willingness to disintegrate,
oatmeal must never be eaten alone.
He said it is perfectly OK, however to eat it with an imaginary companion,
and he himself had enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser
and John Milton.
He also told me about writing the “Ode to a Nightingale”.
He wrote it quickly, he said, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in
but when he got home he couldn’t figure out the order of the stanzas,
and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they made
some sense of them, but he isn’t sure to this day if they got it right.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas,
and the way here and there a line will go into the configuration of a
Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up and peer about, then lay
itself down slightly off the mark, causing the poem to move
forward with God’s reckless wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about
the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some stanzas
of his own, but only made matters worse.
When breakfast was over, John recited “ To Autumn”
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words
lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn’t offer the story of writing “To Autumn”, I doubt if there is
much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field got him started on it
and two of the lines, “For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells”
and “Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours” came to him
while eating oatmeal alone.
I can see him – drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the
glimmering furrows, muttering – and it occurs to me:
maybe there is no sublime, only the shining of the amnion’s tatters.
for supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from
I’m aware that a leftover baked potato can be damp, slippery, and
simultaneously gummy and crumbly,
and therefore I’m going to invite Patrick Kavanagh to join me.
Galway Kinnell was born on February 1st, 1927 in Providence, Rhode island, as a youth he was drawn to the poetry of Emily Dickinson And Edgar Allan Poe. He graduated fro Princeton university in 1948. After serving in his countries navy, he decided to travel for a few years, spending periods of time in Europe and the Middle East. He published his first book of poetry “What a Kingdom It Was” in 1960 followed in 64 by “Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock”. After he returned to the United States, he joined CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), spending a large part of the 1960’s actively participating in the Civil Rights Movement, at one point being arrested whilst participating in a workplace integration in Louisiana. His experience of this time fed into works such as Body Rags (1968) and The Book of Nightmares (1971), a book-length poem, whose subject matter is the Vietnam War. Over the years Kinnell has published several more collections of poetry which include Strong Is Your Hold (, 2006); A New Selected Poems (2000), a finalist for the National Book Award; Imperfect Thirst (1996); When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone (1990); Selected Poems (1980), for which he received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; and Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (1980).
He has also published translations of works by Yves Bonnefroy, Yvanne Goll, François Villon, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Prose works by Kinnell include collection of interviews, Walking Down the Stairs (1978), a novel, Black Light (1966), and children's book, How the Alligator Missed Breakfast (1982).
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Please feel free to suggest any poet/ poem, as
I would welcome an introduction to new verse.