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« Pretending to Have Read Books as a Life Skill | Main | 10 Poetry Month Writing Prompts for Booksellers »

#NationalPoetryMonth--Last Call

I knock off work, 
have a beer 
at the bar.
I look down at the glass
and feel glad.

These lines are from "Another One," written by Ron Padgett for the movie Paterson, in which we literally watch Paterson, N.J., bus driver/poet Paterson (Adam Driver) create this poem and others. Since I saw the film, I've been more than a little haunted by an image: Paterson sitting quietly at his local watering hole, trying to mind his own business, late into the night, with his dog waiting patiently outside. Maybe it's a nice way to consider the final weekend of National Poetry Month 2017, which could get overwhelmed by the bright lights of Independent Bookstore Day.

Last call for Poetry Month. Here are a few items I found this week in my e-mail inbox and elsewhere that may tide us over until May, which also happens to be poetry month (lower case), as are June, July, August and the lot. In my house, at least.

Bookshop haiku: John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland, Larkspur and Brentwood, Calif., responded eloquently to last week's writing prompts for booksellers column: "Thanks for prompting us to participate in National Poetry Month directly. Here's a little haiku for you":

Rilke in Boulder
reading Borges in Boston
summer in bookstores

leaves silently turn
voices murmur about books
autumn wind in store

soft blocks made from trees
open pages in bookstore
now warm as snow falls

green sprouts from paper
cool breeze moistens open eyes
Whitman off the shelf

Poetry vending machine: Colin McDonald, marketing manager for Chicago's Seminary Co-op Bookstores, told me the Co-op "has 'installed' a free poetry vending machine at the entrance to our store, designed by poet Yvonne Zipter and stocked with poems we've been sharing on our blog this month in celebration of poetry published by university presses. The machine has been a hit so far, with NBCC Award winning poet D. A. Powell recently tweeting about it during his visit to the Co-op."

They have also been featuring a promotion called "Free Poetry in Five Easy Steps" and, for the second year in a row, both the Co-op and its sister store, 57th Street Books, celebrated Poem in Your Pocket day on April 27 "by inviting poetry readers and doubters alike to memorize and recite for our staff a poem at least eight lines long and receive 20% off their purchase of poetry," McDonald noted.  

Spoken word poets: "We're still celebrating National Poetry Month. Are you?" the Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta, N.Y., asked on Facebook this week in linking to the Nylon piece "Five Spoken Word Poets Whose Work Will Change You."

"Be aware of the small things": Yusef Komunyakaa shared some advice for aspiring poets with the New York Times: "Attempt to write every day, to read everything, to listen, to be in the world, to challenge ideas and to question ourselves. Because it's not just poetry; it's the experience of inquiry.... Be aware of the small things in the world, not necessarily the monumental things. The small things add up to a monumental reality." Although he is the New York State poet laureate, Komunyakaa is from Louisiana and has lived in other states but calls New York the birthplace of American poetry because it was home to Walt Whitman.

Whitman, Alabama: "This is an experiment in using documentary and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together--as people, as states, and as a nation." For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall traveled through Alabama, "inviting people to look into the camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman."

Juan Felipe Herrera: "Somehow it is the last week of April, which means it is the last week of National Poetry Month, and the end of Juan Felipe Herrera's term as Poet Laureate," Anne Holmes wrote in a blog post for the Library of Congress. His closing celebration, Speak the People/the Spark/el Poema, was held Wednesday.

Herrara said: "Meshing poetry and music with the Fresno State Chamber Singers, a panel on Latino culture, music by Quetzal--this night is a culmination of two years of beautiful and thoughtful audiences; of trains, planes, cars, highways, children, teachers, and artists; of poetry seekers driving for miles to listen and exchange and tell me about their lives. This event will have all the love I can bring to it, and all the appreciations that have been given to me during these last two years; I hope to give back."

Last call: Posted on Facebook by An Unlikely Story‏, Plainville, Mass.: "#NationalPoetryMonth is almost over! Would you like a recommendation?" Seems like a perfect way to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day.

--Published by Shelf Awareness, issue #2990

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