Once again I’m torn over National Poetry Month. Obviously I like poetry. I guess I’d like more people to like it too, to appreciate it as much as they appreciate The Hunger Games or Toddlers and Tiaras, but I know that’s not going to happen. Every year NPM comes along to remind the public that poetry didn’t stop with their 8th grade English class assignment to interpret a Robert Frost poem or write a haiku about spring. I’m sure National GeoCashe Month is a bigger deal to most people, but what the hell, might as well embrace it right?
Right, until we were tortured last year by Oprah’s poetry issue of O magazine.
While I’m thankful that April is usually filled with more readings (and the beginning of trout season) and poetry events (I’m doing several myself this month), I always feel that NPM has a way of trivializing poetry, making it seem more quaint and oddball, reinforcing the public’s perception that poetry is best left to greeting cards.
NPM gives TV, radio and web editorial planners something to plan around. They look for poetry story angles that will connect it to a wider audience, but they treat it as more of a curiosity, like a two-headed calf at the farm show, but not something most thinking people actually want in their homes. During the month of April poets get treated only slightly better than Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog’s Day—we get pulled out of our dark holes and shaken in front of a crowd, only to be shoved back in before we get the chance to say much.
So here’s a short roundup of some of the awfulness this year’s National Poetry Month is subjecting us to (please feel free to add to this list:
- Major news outlets feeling compelled to post poetry-related items like
- Really, really bad writing advice articles like How to Make Your Poems Stand Out
- Connecting poetry to social media trends like Tweet Poems
- People who shouldn’t be writing poems write poems like this.
- New York’s Mayor Bloomberg getting into Poem in Your Pocket Day