The Geiger Counter: My picks for National Poetry Month
Don’t know what to do this weekend? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Pull up a seat to the counter, and I’ll tell you about everything that’s hot and happening.
The snow is melting off the slopes. The sun is out longer, spreading its warming rays. While there’s still skiing to be had, my season pass lanyard is hanging more on a hook than around my neck. I can safely move my snow boots and heavy coats into the closest.
As mud season begins, I find myself trading outdoor activities for indoor. Or at the very least, bring a household item outside to enjoy the change in temperature. With April being National Poetry Month, it’s time to sit out on the patio with a good read and reflect on the words. Here are a couple of my favorite poets.
Pablo Neruda: I’m immensely grateful that a college poetry class introduced me to the words of this Chilean poet. Even when translated into English, they retain their powerfully surreal, political and romantic imagery. With the same pen, he can write about the horrors of war and then something as simple as tomatoes.
Shel Silverstein: While not as serious as some other names on this list, he is just as impactful. His words were extremely influential on children’s minds by making reading fun and imaginative. My copies of “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “A Light in the Attic” and “Falling Up” are well-worn from use.
Langston Hughes: A key player in the Harlem Renaissance cultural movement, his poetry captures the life of Black America. The loving “Mother to Son,” inspirational “Dreams” and notable “Harlem” are just a few of his poems worth reading.
Neil Gaiman: The fantasy and science fiction author is known better for his novels and comics, but he also writes poetry and short stories collected into anthologies. One of my favorite poems of his is “Instructions,” which makes for a great gift for graduates in the same vein as Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”
Amanda Gorman: Named the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017, Amanda Gorman became an icon when she read “The Hill We Climb” for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. As someone who only knows her talents with spoken word, it’s nice to see that poem and others of hers get published this year.
Matsuo Bashō: I actually don’t know if I’ve read his work in print before, so this is more of a bonus since National Haiku Poetry Day happens to fall on April 17 within National Poetry Month. There are countless anthologies on the style, but one might as well go with one of its most acclaimed authors.
If you have an insatiable thirst for poets, I recommend heading to the Academy of American Poets’ website at Poets.org. There you can browse authors and their writings, subscribe to a podcast that reads a poem a day and find other resources all about poetry.
A show about a 19th century poet that uses hip-hop and modern language might seem strange, but the combination works wonders in this Apple TV+ show. Hailee Steinfeld stars as Emily Dickinson as she struggles to get her words published and respected by Victorian-era society.
It also deals with gender norms, Dickinson’s romantic relationships and, of course, her fascination with death. Yet there is a great deal of humor in the show that doesn’t entirely throw historical accuracy out the window.
With guest appearances by Wiz Khalifa as Death, John Mulaney as Henry David Thoreau, Nick Kroll as Edgar Allan Poe and Zosia Mamet as Louisa May Alcott, viewers don’t need to be scholars to appreciate it.
Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Explore Summit. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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