April is National Poetry Month. I’m guessing you have one of three reactions to the idea of an entire month being dedicated to poetry. Reaction 1: you get giddy about all things awesome and poetic (guilty). Reaction 2: you groan and give a Liz Lemon sized eye-roll because you think poetry is lame (wrong, but we’ll get to that). Reaction 3: you mumble, “huh? Like the stuff we read in high school?”
No, not the stuff you read in high school (unless I was your teacher, obvi). And well, yes, the “classic” poems you read in high school are important, but I don’t have time to get into a Lit lesson for you right now.
If you are somewhere in the realm of reactions 2 or 3, I understand your hesitation, but I also think it’s misguided. My guess is that you just haven’t been exposed to enough poetry for you to see how diverse, beautiful, and empowering it can be. National Poetry Month is a perfect time to fix that!
I could literally fill an entire article with a syllabus of all the poets you should read, but I’ll resist and opt for sharing one particular poem with you: Lucille Clifton’s “homage to my hips.”
Clifton is basically an old-school, self-loving, body-celebrating, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar badass. In this video of her reading the poem, she gives a short intro where she says, “I write a lot about body parts...because I am thrilled with my body parts,” and later goes on to say, “I like to celebrate the wonderfulness that I am.”
Hell. Yes. Here is the poem:
If you have a minute and forty seconds, I urge you to watch the video and absorb some of her sass. Then, if you’re feeling inspired, pick a body part of your own and write an homage to it. A poem celebrating your beautiful breasts, a letter of thanks to your strong thighs, a postcard all about your glorious behind!
Celebrate poetry. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate the wonderfulness that you are!
Also, if you’ve seen the light and want to read more poetry, here is a great place to start: Poetry Foundation’s collection celebrating women’s history. Also, you can find many poem-a-day services that will send gems right to your inbox.