T.S. Eliot might have said April is the cruelest month in The Waste Land, but I personally have a fondness for the first full month of spring. Living in New England means never knowing what sort of weather to expect next, but at least once you get to April, you're that much closer to warmer weather. Not that there's anything wrong with the cold. Dropping temperatures inspire people to stay indoors and read. Yet there's something about the promise of sunny days that can influence our reading choices, and the transition period always makes me want to read poetry. Perhaps it's the awakening of the senses after the long, sometimes cruel winter months.
One of my favorite parts of April is that it's National Poetry Month. In preparation for that, I offer you a podcast from Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness' blog, Books on the Nightstand. I review a new book of poetry put out by Norton and edited by Robert Pinsky, called Essential Pleasures. It's a wonderful new anthology dedicated to the sheer enjoyment of reading poems out loud. Norton is launching a website starting April 1st where Robert Pinsky and other poets will blog about this process. It's definitely a site to add to your bookmarks. In addition to my review, the Books on the Nightstand podcast includes an in-depth interview with Vermont poet Michael Schiavo, and poet & bookseller Marie Gauthier offers her opinion of The Plath Cabinet by Catherine Bowman.
Speaking of poets, one I can't recommend highly enough also happens to be the coolest person in the world. Her name is Mekeel McBride. I studied with her at the University of New Hampshire, and she is truly one of the most free-spirited, talented writers I know. She makes writing seem effortless when we all know it really isn't. Her poems do what poetry can do best: paint dazzling bursts of images. Her poem, "The Mechanics of Repair", published in Ploughshares, starts:
"How did I spend my evening?
By coming home in rain that slowly
translated itself into curtain after curtain
of oriental beads that I brushed through
cold and very tired."
Read more here.