charles olson poetry maximus mayan letters poetry black mountain books

Happy National Poetry Month!


You might not realize that April is National Poetry Monthbut seeing as it is only officially celebrated by the USA and Canada, you might not have ever known there was such a thing to begin with.  Well, there is….and I don’t know too many people who get into it.

And while I don’t get behind a lot of “holidays” or “months” meant to increase awareness about this or that, I will wholeheartedly get behind a month of trying to raise awareness of and promote reading POETRY.   It is the artistic form which affects me most deeply, most immediately, and the one that over the years I have worked most within (oh, the illegible notebooks), the art form that makes me feel like I actually know the person writing it – at least at the time of the writing – and I encourage any and everyone to read poetry.

charles olson poetry maximus mayan letters poetry black mountain books

I love to lend out poetry books, to watch the shape of Allen Ginsberg‘s HOWL, William Carlos Williams’s Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems or David Berman‘s Actual Air (just a few examples) go into a friend’s bag and wonder what changes will occur under their care, how different fingers will flip through its pages, crease the cover back, smudge with dirty fingers.

More than anything else, though, I love encouraging people to write poetry and to give suggestions on which poets I think would cause the most response in my friends, would most inspire them to create something.
Though it is always hard to try to break down “favorite” poems or poets, I hope to return to certain poems or books of poetry that have meant a lot to me during this month and hopefully share something beautiful with you.

Today, in keeping with the appreciation of the visual arts that I try to bring to the table I would like to share William Carlos Williams“Landscape With the Fall of Icarus”.  With this poem the New Jersey doctor/modernist poet continues the tradition of called ekphrasis, or one art medium attempts to capture the essence and form of another work from another medium.  This poem is based on the painting of the same name attributed to Pieter Brueghel, and can found in the aforementioned book.
pieter brueghel the elder flemish old master landscape with the fall of icarus

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

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