Celebrate National Poetry Month with NPR

April is National Poetry Month, and there's a host of ways to celebrate. NPR is inviting listeners to write and submit their own original poetry "tweets" throughout the month (in other words, original poems with a 140-character limit). Submissions are reviewed and presented on air by US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. 

Alternatively, you can enjoy some of the great poetry that's featured online. One of my favorite sources: the series that NPR's All Things Considered ran in honor of Poetry Month in 2001 (find it here). There you'll find interviews with and poems by Stanley Kunitz, Ron Padgett, Judy Jordan, Maurice Manning, and Ofelia Zepeda. Here are the poems they showcase by Ron Padgett: 

The Drink 

I am always interested in the people in films who have just had a drink thrown in their faces. Sometimes they react with uncontrollable rage, but sometimes-my favorites-they do not change their expressions at all. Instead they raise a handkerchief or napkin and calmly dab at the offending liquid, as the hurler jumps to her feet and storms away. The other people at the table are understandably uncomfortable. A woman leans over and places her hand on the sleeve of the man's jacket and says, "David, you know she didn't mean it." David answers, "Yes," but in an ambiguous tone-the perfect adult response. But now the orchestra has resumed its amiable and lively dance music, and the room is set in motion as before. Out in the parking lot, however, Elizabeth is setting fire to David's car. Yes, this is a contemporary film.

-- from You Never Know (Coffee House Press, 2002)

Nothing in That Drawer 

Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer. 
Nothing in that drawer.

-- from Great Balls of Fire (Coffee House Press, 1990)

 

Fixation 

It's not that hard to climb up 
on a cross and have nails driven 
into your hands and feet. 
Of course it would hurt, but 
if your mind were strong enough 
you wouldn't notice. You 
would notice how much farther 
you can see up here, how 
there's even a breeze 
that cools your leaking blood. 
The hills with olive groves fold in 
to other hills with roads and huts, 
flocks of sheep on a distant rise.

-- from You Never Know (Coffee House Press, 2002)