Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Poetry Month (April)

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

        his pocket,

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.

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).

Galway Kinnell(Wiki)

Galway Kinnell.com                                         

es  ALL SIZES  pomes ALL SI

Please feel free to suggest any poet/ poem, as

I would welcome an introduction to new verse.

Thanks Parrish.



Anonymous said...

I've never eaten oatmeal - but somehow I feel I should now.

Thoroughly enjoyable m'dear

Lady A x

gina said...

I got Guillevic's Geometries in the mail today. Poetry on geometric shapes.
Do you write in your poetry books? I've found that I have a much easier time marking up poetry books than novels. Novels, I either take rather incomplete and illegible notes in a separate notebook or I use sticky notes. I really hate writing in my books....

@parridhlantern said...

Hello Lady A. Glad to of assistance with your menu choices, this is a lovely poem full of conversational tones.

Hi Gina read some of this collection & want to get it, love the juxtaposition of the shapes & corresponding poetry, also there's several others in this translation award list that look good. As for writing in my books I don't, I use a moleskine pad & book journal + blind chance that I will remember ...

wecallupon said...

nice poem although urgh won't make me eat oatmeal lol ,all the best stu

Anonymous said...

A great poem to read as I sit and enjoy my daily bowl of oatmeal. Maybe tomorrow I'll invite an imaginary companion.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Stu, not a great porridge lover eh !.
Is This Blog active(we call upon the author) like the Nick Cave ref.

Hi Pete, yes, but be careful you've know idea where it could lead.

Tom C said...

Fascinating stuff. I though you'd written that youreself until I reached the end and saw it was written by Galway Kinnell.

There are just too many poems for me to be able to keep track of them all so I won't suggest any more!

@parridhlantern said...

Thanks Tom, Wish I had, the imaginative content of the poem amazes me, makes me smile, just love some of phrases & images conjured in it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, love it. And I really like Galway Kinnell's stuff. Thanks