National Poetry Month is a good thing, necessary, not some sort of silliness, and all those people doing poem-a-day marathons are not wasting their time. There: I've said it.
I'll say it again. I like National Poetry Month. We need it and we need it more every year. There are many good reasons why.
On a personal level, I like the excuse to NOT feel guilty about drafting poems for an hour or two a day. As a poet and writer, I'm often so caught up in the business of merchandising myself--submissions, entries, posts on social media, and yes, blog entries like this one--that I forget why I write in the first place: because I love to write. Because I HAVE to write. And hey--it's National Poetry Month. I have permission.
I have a standard joke I make when write my bio for someone who isn't part of po-biz. "Yeah," I always say, "I'm a poet. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it." Yuk yuk. But I shouldn't have to make that joke. And I shouldn't need permission to write. No one should.
In these days of honoring STEM education more than the humanities, we especially need National Poetry Month. Don't get me wrong; I love tech. We have engineers in the family. My own grandpa was one, and my grandpa was my favorite blood relative. He taught me how to rig a box kite so it got in the way of general aviation over Cape Cod. Well, sort of. At least, I remember it that way. That kite was really, REALLY up there, and learning how to do it, engineering it--that was really fun. I'll never forget how. But what is the use of all that how if you don't have a why? Humanities--the arts, poetry--is the why. Humanities. The thing that makes us human.
Writing isn't "content". It's journalism, narrative, fairy tale, and poetry. It's art. And poetry isn't just pretty words. It isn't just slam or sonnets or ballads It's more important than that. It's The Song. It's scripture.
Happy National Poetry Month, everyone. I'm doing my poem-a-day at a pleasant online workshop called The Waters. You'd be welcome to join in. And write ON!
...Christine Potter is the author of two collections of poetry: Zero Degrees at First Light (2006) and Sheltering In Place (2013). Her third poetry collection, Unforgetting, is forthcoming from Kelsay books.