Tomorrow is not only April Fool’s Day, but also the first day of National Poetry Month! National Poetry Month is a way to recognize current and past poets while also exploring the poet inside of us all. Below are a handful of ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, whether you’re an avid poetry reader or new to the genre.
Attend the 2021 Villanova University Literary Festival! Robin Coste Lewis, one of the Literary Festival’s featured speakers, will be on Zoom for a virtual reading and talk on Thursday, April 8 at 7 p.m. Coste Lewis is the poet laureate of Los Angeles. Hannah Khalil, playwright and the 2021 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair for Irish Studies, will present a virtual talk on Thursday, April 15 at 5 p.m. Khalil’s work for stage includes A Museum in Baghdad, which opened at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre in 2019, Interference for The National Theatre of Scotland, The Scar Test for Soho Theatre and Scenes from 68* Years for the Arcola.
These ACS-approved events, co-sponsored by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, the Honors Program, Africana Studies, Global Interdisciplinary Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, the Center for Irish Studies, and Falvey Memorial Library, are free and open to the public. You can find more information about the events and register to attend here.
Listen to a poem a day. The Academy of American Poets releases a podcast called Poem-a-Day where you can listen to just that, a poem a day. Most of the poems are under 10 minutes long and perfect to listen to while walking around campus between classes.
Go back to your childhood poetry roots. When I think about where my awareness of poetry started, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood bedroom where I’d sit and read Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. His collection of sketches and poems contains not only comedic poetry for kids, but also wisdom for adults of any age. Pick it up from Falvey’s collection and enjoy the nostalgia!
Create your own poems. One way to stir your own creativity is to put a bunch of words into a jar and then pick three out and try to make a poem. Doing this with your friends and family may help you recognize the poet inside of you—or at least produce a laugh or two!
Do you have favorite poets that you’re going to be reading this month? Let us know in the comments! I’m always looking for new recommendations.
Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.
Celebrating National Poetry Month, Falvey Memorial Library staff shared some of their favorite poems.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers—Emily Dickinson
Submitted by Regina Duffy, Communication and Marketing Program Manager
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Balaenoptera—Joshua Bennett Submitted by Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist
Today—Billy Collins Submitted by Luisa Cywinski, Director of Access Services
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Lighthouse Keeping—Kay Ryan
Submitted by Deborah Bishov, Librarian for Communication, Education and Counseling, Russian Studies. Bishov learned about the poem from Shauna MacDonald, PhD, Associate Professor, Communication; Co-Director, Gender and Women’s Studies.
ships lean no
a light for
those left out.
It is intimate
and remote both
for the keeper
and those afloat.
The Same City—Terrance Hayes Submitted by Erica Hayes, Digital Scholarship Librarian
The rain falling on a night
I pull to my father’s engine
wondering how long I’ll remember
this. His car is dead. He connects
jumper cables to his battery,
then to mine without looking in
at me and the child. Water beads
on the windshields, the road sign,
his thin blue coat. I’d get out now,
prove I can stand with him
in the cold, but he told me to stay
with the infant. I wrap her
in the blanket, staring
for what seems like a long time
into her open, toothless mouth,
and wish she was mine. I feed her
an orange softened first in my mouth,
chewed gently until the juice runs
down my fingers as I squeeze it
into hers. What could any of this matter
to another man passing on his way
to his family, his radio deafening
the sound of water and breathing
along all the roads bound to his?
But to rescue a soul is as close
as anyone comes to God.
Think of Noah lifting a small black bird
from its nest. Think of Joseph,
raising a son that wasn’t his.
Let me begin again.
I want to be holy. In rain
I pull to my father’s car
with my girlfriend’s infant.
She was eight weeks pregnant when we met.
But we’d make love. We’d make
love below stars and shingles
while her baby kicked between us.
Perhaps a man whose young child
bears his face, whose wife waits
as he drives home through rain
and darkness, perhaps that man
would call me a fool. So what.
There is one thing I will remember
all my life. It is as small
and holy as the mouth
of an infant. It is speechless.
When his car would not stir,
my father climbed in beside us,
took the orange from my hand,
took the baby in his arms.
In 1974, this man met my mother
for the first time as I cried or slept
in the same city that holds us
tonight. If you ever tell my story,
say that’s the year I was born.
When This Is—Laura Kelly Fanucci Submitted by Daniella Snyder, Graduate Assistant
When this is over,
may we never again take for granted;
A handshake with a stranger, Full shelves at the store,
Conversations with neighbors,
A crowded theater, Friday night out,
The taste of communion, A routine checkup,
The school rush each morning, Coffee with a friend,
The stadium roaring, Each deep breath! A boring Tuesday. Life itself.
When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be,
we were called to be,
we hope to be,
and may we stay that way — better for each other because of the worst.
Mortal City—Dar Williams Submitted by Shawn Proctor, Marketing and Communication Program Manager
I think I have a special kind of hearing tonight
I hear the neighbors upstairs
I hear my heart beating
I hear one thousand hearts beating at the hospital
And one thousand hearts by their bedsides waiting
Saying that’s my love in the white gown,
We are not lost in the Mortal City
We are not lost in the Mortal City
Nothing Gold Can Stay—Robert Frost Submitted by Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Poetry Unbound podcast—by Pádraig Ó Tuama Submitted by Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian, “Ó Tuama reads a poem and discusses some of the meanings he finds in it. The podcast provides a short and lovely way to be introduced to new poems and new ways of seeing the world.”
I’m Daniella Snyder, a graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s (remote) Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics–from research to study habits and everything in between–and how the Falvey Library can play a large role in your success at Villanova!
Hey, Wildcats! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? NPM was first launched in 1966 by the Academy of American Poets. It began as a way to remind us that poets and poetry matters and that they play a vital role in society. Since 1966, NPM has attracted tens of millions of readers, students, librarians, publishers, and poets.
Now, in the midst of COVID-19, we face unprecedented circumstances. This particular NPM has taken on new meaning and importance, as more and more of us are turning to poetry to find solace and strength.
While I certainly recommend that everyone pick up the work of their favorite poet this month, I hope you’ll find some new poems that give you comfort during this uncertain time. If you’re looking for even more ways to participate in NPM during COVID-19, the Academy of American Poets has come up with some ways you can celebrate, both online and at home:
Sign up for “Poem a Day” and get free daily poems delivered to your inbox each morning.
Read last year’s most-read poem, “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Buy a poetry book from a local, independent bookstore.
Host a virtual poetry reading on Zoom.
As NPM progresses, tell Falvey if you’ve found a poem that has been a source of comfort, solace, or strength for you. Share that poem with us: DM us on Instagram (@villanovalibrary), tweet us (@FalveyLibrary), or message us on Facebook.
Daniella Snyder is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the English department. Since she’s back in her childhood home, she’s picking up her favorite poem from when she was a kid: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
Our first selection comes from Cornelia Fletcher’s friendship album (previously written about here), which contains many poems inscribed in the album by friends and family of Cornelia. Most of the poems are transcriptions of poems published elsewhere, but “Cornelia” by A.B. seems to be an original poem. Here is an excerpt from the opening lines:
Dear girl! as young, as sweet as Spring
Who now her blushing beauties flings
To glad all earth, delight the eye,
And flush each flow’r with rainbow dye.
So may you bloom with Virtue’s gem,
How rich her splendid diadem.
You can read the whole poem on this page or browse through the whole album here.
Our next poetry selection comes from Eleanor C. Donnelly, a Catholic poetess in the Philadelphia area. The following is an excerpt from her poem “The Conversion of St. Augustine”:
The hour hath come,—the hour of love, ordained
By Him who reigns and hath forever reigned.
—Above that prostrate form, in robes of snow,
With harp of gold and gladsome face aglow,
An angel spreads his shining wings, and floats
To cheer the mourner with ecstatic notes.
For lo! across the sunny air there rings
A tender voice, which “Tolle lege!” sings;
Close to his ear so musical, so mild,
Like the clearest accents of a sinless child,
(Or dulcet strains from some celestial mead:)
“Son of a sainted mother! take and read!
O Tolle lege! take, O take and read!”