Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? We did. And we’ve been celebrating it joyfully as part of our annual 30 Days, 30 Poems project.
Oh So That’s Where You’ve Been All Month. But Why?
We love poetry here. It’s no secret. We know there’s something magical about finding a poem that feels like it’s just for you. Where you feel seen. Where it feels like no one else could describe that feeling, that moment so perfectly. It’s the poem you take time to memorize, or scribble into the back of every notebook you buy. The one you have to share because it’s just so right. But not everyone knows that feeling. Or has a poem that does that for them.
We want everyone to have a poem like that. Or if you already have a poem like that, we want to help you share it. And so we created the 30 Days, 30 Poems project.
Things Happen in Threes, Right?
The 30 Days, 30 Poems project has three goals.
- To get people who might not otherwise read a poem to read a poem.
- To get people who might otherwise read only the canonical (usually white, male) voices to read a bit deeper and a bit broader. Maybe read someone else from the same era or movement they hadn’t tried, or even heard of, before. Maybe you’ve read T. S. Eliot but not H.D., for example. Maybe you’ve read Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, but not Gregory Corso or Diane DiPrima or Amiri Baraka.
- To introduce poets who are not ‘canonical’ in the traditional sense but are no less brilliant… and sometimes more.
The poems are chosen by the 2 Rules of Writing team, friends, visitors to our website and members of the 2 Rules online community. You can even share a favorite here. We’re already collecting ideas for next year.
What Did You Miss?
You missed our daily updates where you could see each day’s poem and a few thoughts about it on the day it was posted. But those thoughts are a sort of poetry on their own and needed to be saved, so you can find all the poems from the month on the 30 Days, 30 Poems Archive Page.
As the month winds down, we decided to bring you some of Adam and Erika’s favorites from the month. A sort of best of the best. Because all of the poems here are special. Every one of them belongs to someone. Why not let us share yours next year?
On To The Poems
When Autumn Came
If poetry in translation is your thing, or if it’s something you want to learn more about, try Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “When Autumn Came” which was featured on April 5. Maybe the idea of an unusual perspective on autumn will entice you to check it out
“Faiz’s dismal view of autumn, so different from the way poets normally depict that season, reflects a sliver of truth we don’t often confront”.
Whoever hath her wish, thou has thy Will
While it wasn’t on his actual death date (and maybe also birth date,) we couldn’t have a poetry celebration without Shakespeare. And so on April 25, we brought you Sonnet 135: Whoever hath her wish, thou has thy Will. Adam has a particular way of talking about Shakespeare that makes his work so very accessible. This time he invites us to learn more by beginning with:
“So. What’s a sonnet? One of the interesting things about literature is that history winnows away so much of it that we lose all sense of why a work was good in the first place. We may find our own reasons but it’s always interesting to see why they liked it all those hundreds of years ago.”
To the Virgins to Make Much of Time
In addition to National Poetry Month, April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We’ve featured a lot of writing about rape and sexual assault here, and during National Poetry Month we want to continue to draw attention to it, and the impact it has. Poetry gives us a different perspective on the how or why. We’re also interested in the healing qualities of poetry, too. On April 26, we featured Robert Herrick’s To the Virgins to Make Much of Time. The poem has the gorgeous opening line, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” but even with an opening line that gorgeous, there’s a lot more to the poem. Here’s a little highlight of what Adam had to say about it:
“What continuously leaves me in awe of poems like this is how erudite and even beautiful they are in their douchebaggery.”
Archaic Torso of Apollo
Adam and I are obvious both poetry fans, but our favorites are usually from very different periods of time. He tends towards old and epic, and I lean more towards modern or contemporary. Still, we do find common ground sometimes, and one of my favorite parts of 30 Days, 30 Poems is the day we set aside to choose one poem to comment on together. It’s a fun challenge for both of us to find something we both have read and love, to go through pages and pages of my favorites, picking and choosing things I think Adam may also have read. This year, on April 21, we chose a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, Archaic Torso of Apollo. I love the day that we share because it shows you how two people can read and love the same poem, sometimes for different reasons. If you’re curious, here’s a little preview of what each of us said:
Adam’s thoughts on Archaic Torso of Apollo
“Each time I read it, I’m struck by how quickly Rilke moves from briefly setting the stage to blowing your mind. This is an entire book-length essay on the philosophy of visual art compressed down to the length of a sonnet.“
Erika’s thoughts on Archaic Torso of Apollo
“To Rilke, being a poet can make life difficult, but it is also good. To experience the depth of emotions as Rilke did–the highs and lows–it’s hard on a person. At least it is on me. I’ve spent my whole life being told I’m too sensitive. But being less sensitive would also, I think, take away from the way I see the world. Through a poet’s eyes. Where I can see beauty in the broken.“
But What Does Erika Think?
I Waited For You Since Yesterday Morning
This poem raced into my consciousness during National Poetry Month when a friend messaged me in the middle of the night (I was already awake,) and asked if I wanted to read some poetry together. She read “I Waited For You Since Sunday Morning” to me and I could not stop thinking about it, and in particular the way I felt about the ending. So when I chose our poem for April 21, as I wrote about the poem, I shared:
“We talked about love. And how a rainy day with a lover is the kind of thing where you imagine comfort but sometimes there’s that feeling of too much closeness. And when that happens, then what? You have an abrupt ending, just like this poem. (That ending is one of the things that we talked about at length when we discussed the poem.) Sometimes that ending might be just for that moment, that activity, that day, and sometimes it may be for good.”
On April 23, I lost a beloved friend, a former romantic partner to metastatic breast cancer. (In her words she was “murdered by cancer.”) I was buried under sadness that day and am still devastated by her loss. My I.Q. a spoken word piece by Ani DiFranco celebrates both rage and the impermanence of things–two things that I have been acutely aware of as I grieve. It’s also one of the pieces she performed when we saw her in Central Park many years ago, a night I can’t forget not only because of the way we ran, laughing through the park, with her daughter in a baby stroller, but because I introduced her to my sister that night. I hope you read (or listen to) this poem and feel some of the things I did:
So tonight, I give you Ani DiFranco. I give you the highs and lows. May you love as hard and be loved as hard as I was. As I did. Fuck cancer.
I didn’t have to do it, (I’ve written plenty on this website already about rape and sexual assault,) but I also chose a poem to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month this year. Patricia Lockwood’s Rape Joke was almost too much for me to read the first time I read it. And even, occasionally, on subsequent readings. It treads a careful line between being seen and validated and things that trigger painful memories and even sometimes flashbacks. But it’s important for those reasons, too. There are a few things that I hope people will take away when they read the poem, too:
“Perhaps framing things that way helps other people protect themselves–if you’re the one that was raped, then it’s less likely to happen to them. Maybe it’s because we just don’t have rituals or traditions to tell us what to do after someone is raped. But when we look at statistics that suggest that one in three women will be raped, perhaps we need those rituals.
We need people to stand up and say “Stop raping,” and to take accountability for things that have happened.“
The Last Stanza
Those are just a few of the highlights from our poetry celebration. Go take a look at the rest of them. Look for the last one on April 30, 2023, too. Keep up with future poetry celebrations by subscribing here or joining us on Facebook. You might even see us on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube soon, too. And if you enjoyed this month, watch as we share more in the coming weeks.