National Poetry Month
As we near the end of National Poetry Month, we are taking a moment to reflect on how poetry can offer a new perspective on our world.
Poetry’s unique capacity for distilling emotion makes it an effective vehicle for engaging in difficult conversations and expressing our deepest thoughts.
And who better to talk about the power of poetry than the poets themselves? To celebrate National Poetry Month, Athabasca University Press (AU Press) has shared their favourite poems from a few of their recent poetry collections.
Here is what the poets have to say:
The Road to Writer’s Block (A Poem to Myself)
Embark on this pilgrimage in the midst
of your father’s passing. Start
a poem for your father, two weeks after he dies,
and title it tawâw, but leave it
for a year because it’s just too hard to write.
Tell Cree people why you,
try to write poetry in Cree and English. Tell
them in nêhiyawêwin as they lean
toward your crude Cree, trying
to understand, trying to give you some of their loss.
Speak these words, over and over, rehearsing them until you know
you sound fluent:
ninôhtê-nêhiyawân ayisk ê-kî-pakaskît nohtâwîpan. ayîki-sâkahikanihk
ohci wiya mâka môya ê-kî-nêhiyâwit, kî-môniyâwiw.
êkwa mîna ê-âpihtawikosisâniskwêwit nikâwiy.
—from “The Road to Writer’s Block (A Poem to Myself)” by Naomi McIlwraith in kiyâm
From Turtle Island to Gaza
The missing are prisoners of our
Our leaders bray like donkeys
to the settler.
I write poems no one reads,
and the settler feeds them more carrots.
—from From Turtle Island to Gaza by David Groulx
In Gwen MacEwen Park
I want to stay in this chestnut shade
let more ants traverse my shirt
but I have to get back to the conference
where new poets sharp as scalpels will be reading
I will try to listen with a heart open as Kahlo’s
—from “In Gwen MacEwen Park” by Mark A. McCutcheon in Shape Your Eyes by Shutting Them
Where You Are When You Are
The poem that has deceived me right
from the very beginning arrives
dressed all in black in order to
worm its way into a vein that has moved
to the dark side. I take it by
the elbow and lead it onto the
dance-floor of paper, where I shall
from time to time carefully twirl it into
a rhyme, so that I do not ruffle
the metaphors of the serious lady.
But she suddenly strikes up a
different rhythm. Before I know
what is happening, she is leading and I
match my step to other syllables.
—from “Where You Are When You Are” by Cvetka Lipuš, translated by Tom Priestly in What We Are When We Are
You can download the complete poetry collections for free from aupress.ca.