I imagine in the quiet cottage of his brain/the sepia of this desert city,/wind, dirt, grit that scuffs your skin./Wish him gentleness in the shade of shadows.
writes Loretta Diane Walker in her poem “Imagining My Neighbor” published on Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2022
National Poetry Month, launched in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, has reminded us that “poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters.” I am thankful for the Academy of American Poets’ efforts, and many more people are indeed reading poetry.
Though for many, poetry has always been the way to make sense of what it means to be human. To understand my life’s complexities, I often head to poetry.
I have meditated on this collection of poems many times. While you’re reading them, notice how Jericho Brown instructs the reader to see things for what they are: I don’t want to make more of it. And how Ross Gay invites the reader to acknowledge our temporary existence with you are the air now and gone. And June Jordan’s commitment to herself and her own strength. And I love how E.C. Belli personifies happiness as a riot of endless limbs and the idea in Kevin Young’s “Hive,” that each of has the power to hold the universe between our unwashed hands. Notice in “Instructions on Not Giving Up,” how Limon opens up her hand to say I’ll take it all and how Trapeta Mayson confirms that each of us is a sphere of shocking beauty and grace. And revel in the final three women poets–Nelson, Harjo, and Mueller–who have translated the world’s difficulties into poetry for decades. Notice how these three wise women do not turn away from grief or fear but rather transform it into deep a healing prayer of Ah!.
If you have a favorite poem or write poetry, I encourage you to share your poems here. If you are moved by an image or line in one of these poems, share that, too. Together, we can build an ever-expanding collection of poems that we can return to when we need them.