National Poetry Month

I am a poet. Says so right up there at the top of this page. I have to tell you though, it feels strange saying it. To paraphrase something I think the lovely and talented poet Damian Rogers once wrote, telling people you’re a poet is kind of like saying you’re a unicorn. I’ve often joked that poetry is only one rung up above mime on the list of arts most people think they could live their whole lives without. And yet, I’ve always done it, written this kind of verse. And read it. Every day, every month. It brings me great joy, clarity, wisdom, wonder. But someone decided we should celebrate it all the more, give it a month, like it’s some kind of disease or cause that needs to a campaign for awareness, a charity. Hence, April is declared National Poetry Month. Well it’s true, poets are pretty broke and under-appreciated, they can use the attention, the applause, the money.

Often, I take National Poetry Month as an excuse to push mundane work things aside and focus on writing new work. This year, I am taking the work I did in 2010 and turning it into short films.  I am plotting with filmmaking friends on on some art videos based on my series Weapons. These poems were not written for the printed page, rather, they were created to to be printed on prayer candles. (See a shadowy sample of “Holy Water,” below.) I’ve been lucky enough to exhibit these and revel in the fact that it presents poetry in an unexpected place. That’s also what we will do with the films.

Meanwhile, I do encourage you, poet friends and friends of poetry, to take this month as an excuse to buy some poetry (here are some Canadian poetry books I adore), attend a reading, memorize a favourite verse, feed a poet, write your own sonnets, or otherwise celebrate poetry.  Because you know, it’s easier to fit in your pocket than a unicorn.

Holy Water, from the poem series Weapons (2009)

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