April is National Poetry Month. Did you know?
While the literary world is buzzing with endless events and contests / competitions / prizes are announced, I’m wondering how many people out there are completely unaware that there even is a National Poetry Month. How “noticed” is poetry?
I myself discovered poetry when I was very young. I really can’t remember exactly how it came into my life, but I have always been scribbling lines of verse and when asked, never hesitated to call myself a poet.
Through my teen years, when I would stay up late through the night, sitting by my bedroom window with music on, I was always reading or writing poetry.
I discovered a lot about myself through my writing and felt it connected me to a world outside of the little suburban one in which I grew up. I can’t imagine what my teenage years would have been like if I didn’t have poetry.
And that’s why I wonder what state poetry is in with today’s teens and young people.
Even if they are aware of it, do they appreciate it? Like it? Care about it at all?
Torontoist’s poetry columnist Jacob McArthur Mooney is conducting a poetic experiment this month called The Optimisms Project over at the Books@Torontoist website. He challenged writers under the age of 30 to “express, in whatever way they choose, what makes them feel optimistic about the future of poetry in Canada.”
He explains the intent in a letter addressed to “Whiny Poets.” Here’s a snippet:
“I’ve specifically chosen this demographic (poets under 30) not because “the youth are our future”, but because I have never come across a whinier, more passive-aggressive set of ritualistic pessimists than poets in their twenties. We are truly the angriest lucky bastards I’ve ever come across. We are so incensed by getting to engage with this ancient art form, beyond all the dreams of our immigrant ancestors who came to this country with twenty dollars and no sense that any of their children would ever have the free time to think about something as invisible as “aesthetics”. Woe is us.”
He challenges today’s young writers to leave behind their pessimistic leanings and explore the optimistic side of poetry, where it currently is and where it’s going in this country.
As for where it’s actually going, no one can say for sure. But there is hope. And to prove it, I give you this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist announcement.
Among the wonderful list of talented writers nominated, the poets shortlisted for the Canadian side of the award were three incredibly deserving women: Karen Solie for Pigeon, Kate Hall for The Certainty Dream, and P.K. Page for Coal and Roses who sadly recently passed away. * All three titles are pictured above.
If you’re interested in some amazing poetic literature from awesome Canadian women, these books are definitely a place to start.
With all of this and much, much more going on in the Canadian poetry scene, does any of it interest you?
Are there books of poetry or a single poem that speaks to you? Do you write poetry yourself?
If you’re not interested in poetry, is there something that would change that?