Why Poetry is No Joke

April 1st is not only April fools day, as witnessed by a hilarious ‘leak’ of the Comic Con program courtesy of Whedonsesque, it’s the kick off to National Poetry month. Think of it one whole month to the most maligned, misunderstood, or misery-inducing literary forms.

I have not clue why the word ‘poetry’ would cause students to cringe.  Too much emphasis on the older stuff? I always enjoyed poetry while admitting I wrote some pretty atrocious love poetry in my youth.  I enjoy the form from sonnets to slam poets.  I like how poets take language and play.  I still enjoy hearing poetry read out loud.

My book shelf has a sprinkling of poetry, and they come from men.  It doesn’t mean I don’t value poems by women.  I gave away my copy of Elizabeth’s Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept during my move.  Now I wish I hadn’t; For anyone in throws of love, unrequited or otherwise, it’s quite the read.  I had to take a Canadian Lit course during my Library Tech training.  Gregory Scofield not only writes poetry about being Aboriginal, but some of the hottest verses as a gay man.  I really want to find that paper, but I still remember the longing in his words breaking orientation to speak the universal truths of desire and love.

I do like my poems on the spicy side.  While I enjoy a Easter Monday off, how about leaving with another spicy offering, this time a slice from my favourite poem by Walt Whitman:

The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,

That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

The expression of the face balks account,

But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,

It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,

It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of waist and knees, dress does not hide him,

The strong sweet quality he strikes through the cotton and broad cloth,

To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,

You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder side

-From I Sing the Body Electric




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