Poetry

As many of you are probably aware, a terrible disease has overtaken this country, a disease whose primary symptom is the renaming of all months, days, and weeks, so that they no longer honor the gods of the ancients or the Sabbath or whatever else, but rather secretaries, veterans, mothers, mental health, stuttering awareness, and whatever else it has been decided needs to be recognized especially, or only (depending on your point of view) at a certain time of the year.

Since I can think of no way to beat this tendency, and since it does occasionally produce good things, I have decided to join it–not that I’m going to name a Samuel Johnson Appreciation Week (though that might be kinda fun). But, I am going to jump on the tail end of the April Is National Poetry Month Bandwagon, and urge all of you to contribute to Robert Pinsky’s 200th birthday present to the Library of Congress. It’s pretty simple: basically, you send an e-mail to stating your favorite poem–anything goes (although if it’s not in English they ask that you provide a translation, and they’re not accepting unpublished work). Robert Pinsky, as you may know, is our poet laureate, and he’s been accepting submissions all year, I think. Anyway, he’s going to have 1000 respondents read their selections onto audio tape, and some more onto video tape, and then put the whole mess in the Library of Congress as a sort of time capsule. So, get out your Oxford Book of English Verse or copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends or collection of haiku or whatever, and send in your selection by April 30th–that’s Friday–sorry about the short notice. And if you CC your submission to me, I’ll compile a list of favorites of The New Rambler.

Some of you may also have heard me talking about my Alphabet of Verse project. It is now done, in hard copy, and I’m working on getting it up on the Web, but that may not happen till this summer. Poetry, should, however, be a year-round preoccupation, so I trust you will all be as happy to spend a September evening with Ted Hughes or a drear-nighted December with John Keats as you are to spend a cruel April drenched with sweet showers with Eliot and Chaucer. Enough erudition–and a real New Rambler will be on the way, sooner or later.

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