National Poetry Month

Inspired by Black History month, The Academy of American Poets  worked with a variety of interested parties including teachers, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and of course poets to figure out the many ways poetry could be celebrated.  They concluded April was a great month for the celebration, and on April 1, 1996, President Bill Clinton proclaimed April to be National Poetry Month. 

 

Following the Academy’s lead, Writers’ Morning Out has posted a poem-a-day during April since WMO’s inception in 2010.

“Learning by Heart” by Janet Ford

 

The radiator hissed and hummed
and hammered
as we solved and spelled
in kept silence;
among the drip-cans, rain pinged
like answers dropped through
cracked ceilings. Here we would learn
who we would become.

 

In a loose gray dress
and all her ease, Miss Rivers
took the floor, flagship
of our ragtag fleet.
How did the prisoners
of war survive?
The verse they remembered
saved their lives.

There is no frigate like a book . . .
One by one we floated up
and spoke the poem
as in prayer
till the world at the windows
glittered like a sea
and all our little craft
bobbed off from shore.

 

We would fall in line
and snake the halls
to bleach-reeked bathrooms,
the clang and stodge of lunch,
and it was all there;
the course before us,
a gleam over water
we would cross.

 

The hours leaked away
till there was nothing to be done.
The clock dismissed us
and we were on our own,
hungry and game,
the wind in our faces,
a plume of words above us,
swelling like a sail.

 

 

“Learning by Heart” was published first in Blue Heron Review Spring 2021.

 

 

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