Poetry Has a Genre for You
Readers are a finicky bunch. We have authors who we love, genres that we read and recommend, but we also have those secret pleasures – whether that’s the mainstream crime novel or romance. More often than not, poetry is considered too difficult to read or understand. However, as with every genre of writing, poetry has its more mainstream writers and those who are more literary.
National Poetry Month, which some critics say focuses too heavily on mainstream and accessible poetry, strives to bring more people to poetry. To that end, there are events across the United States and beyond, and the Academy of American Poets offers a number of resources to help people celebrate poetry. Check out their 30 ways to celebrate. Charles Bernstein recently wrote a piece on National Poetry Month as a mere advertising campaign to further publicize its own sponsors like The New York Times, among other things.
While this may be true on some level, it is also disheartening that a poet would seek to strike down a cause that promotes his own art. Perhaps he does not feel represented or is upset that the sponsors of the program do not review poetry collections as they used to or even talk about readings. But National Poetry Month should not be about the poet or his own poems, but about spreading the word about poetry – new and old – to readers who fear verse or think verse too hard or academic.
Getting back to the point, poetry is as multi-faceted as prose. There are poems that have classic language – take Shakespeare as just one example – and there are poems that are confessional, reminiscent of memoir, like those of Sylvia Plath. Poems can be about science, science fiction, and fantasy like Jeannine Hall Gailey, Bernadette Geyer, and Tracy K. Smith, as well as murder, war, love, and more. There are poets who focus on nature, like Mary Oliver and Ted Kooser, or the poets who have poured their hearts and souls into the lines they create to release the demons created by battle, like Kevin Bowen, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Brian Turner. Even math can be poetic if you read Edward Nudelman.
The National Poetry Month blog tour, started in 2010, became another way for me to share poetry with others in the blogosphere and to have everyone participate. I wanted bloggers to find poetry that meant something to them, and share their discoveries with one another. Through this process, my hope is that poetry gains a wider audience and that readers who didn’t think poetry was for them find a genre of poetry that they do enjoy. If you haven’t stopped by the tour stops yet, there is still time to do so. And we’re collecting links from everyone who posts about poetry or poets in April, even if you’re not officially on the blog tour.