What rhymes with month?

April is Poetry Month, forsooth, which is the only time you can get away with a word like that, to tell you the truth.

“Do we really need a whole month?” the poetry haters whine.” Wouldn’t a long weekend do just fine? Couldn’t we simply have National Poetry Day? Better yet, April’s so nice, can’t we just go out and play? Really, why bother with poetry at all? Play ball!”

And therein lies the problem: the perception that poetry’s archaic, as accessible as something written in Old English or Aramaic.

It starts at school, where we’re taught that poetry’s ”complex” and ”hard.” All that joyless parsing of Tennyson and the Bard sets one against it at an early age, triggering a visceral reaction against verse: ode rage.

Plus, poetry goes against the grain of our modern times. We want precision, answers, easily digested info, not rhymes! We process Google-able factoids and bits of trivia, like the number of jackets Don Cherry owns or the GDP of Bolivia. Poetry doesn’t offer these clear-cut solutions. It’s more about impressions, open resolutions. Who has patience for nebulous haikus when we could be solving medium Sudokus?

And all those rules can make you so skittish: epics Greek, sonnets British, quatrains, couplets, iambs, meter – don’t worry, I don’t understand it either.

No wonder the role of the poet ain’t what it used to be, certainly nothing you’d call a celebrity. When I try to think of a poet today who resonates in our society like Robert Frost, I’m lost. I suppose there’s Maya Angelou, though I don’t read her much, do you?

These may be tough times for poetry, but surely there’s a place for it, don’t you agree?

For starters, a poem views the world through a particular prism, crafted according to the poet’s vision, some mind-directing mechanism. A good poem bends the light of intelligence, sometimes with brash irony, often with elegance, subtle like mice, not a herd of elephants.

And is poetry not the foremost means for expressing love, not to mention it’s flip side, that fallen dove, regret? You bet. There’s a reason the lovelorn turn to verse when their hearts take a turn, often for the worse. Poetry is the speech of the soul; the brain does the legwork but the heart’s tale gets told.

(My only criticism is that poems are knocked if they express outright witticism. The more morose are respected the most, but why belittle if it triggers a giggle?)

Even if you struggle to tease out the meaning – spending an evening re-reading and reasoning – there’s pleasure still in the sound of the words, the lilt of the language in ways you’ve never heard, or rarely at least. It’s like seeing a dog pondering, not knowing what he’s thinking, but still admiring the expression on the beast.

john3There is song in words just as there are words in song. (Although if you think all lyrics are poetry, you’re wrong. Does your song include the word “ho”? Then no.) Why not take Poetry Month to commence appreciating how songs can be lyric in that other sense, like John K. Samson’s from The Weakerthans. (Buy “Provincial”; it’s essential.)

This, you see, is ultimately why we need this opportunity to do good by poetry. It’s a chance to appreciate language’s fluidity in all its full-frontal, sigh-and-gruntal nudity. (Now you see what poetry can do to me!) Whether it’s undulating prose or a fully formed sonnet, when you catch a stirring phrase, jump on it.

So take April, if you’re capable, to raise poetry’s status.

Better verse than this, that is.

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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12 Responses to What rhymes with month?

  1. rossmurray1 says:

    Reblogged this on Drinking Tips for Teens and commented:

    I wrote this a year ago before I had any followers or a clue. Here it is one more time because it’s April again and, gosh darn it!, I’m quite fond of it.

  2. I’ve never been one for abstractions and vagaries, but as I dig more into writing, I read more poetry. It serves to remind me of using brevity while saying the most possible. I also like reading it out loud, because even in prose, there needs to be a rhythm. Unfortunately, like critically-acclaimed novels, the most celebrated poetry seems to be that in which everyone ends up dead, lost or drunk.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Those are all great observations. And great habits too! Reading your work out loud is so helpful, particularly to find the rhythm, which, once found, can make a blah sentence sing.

  3. Pingback: Stopping by bar on any evening…a poetry tribute or criminal abomination? | don of all trades

  4. The Waiting says:

    I am sitting here trying to comment in verse,
    But my rhymes are coming slower than a hearse.

  5. javaj240 says:

    I don’t know how I missed this one… delightful.

    For what it’s worth, I think song lyrics have replaced poetry on some level. Not that there aren’t people out there writing poetry anymore… there are… the ‘nets full of them… Great song lyrics are just as poetic as great poetry. The entire “Nebraska” album comes to mind.. that was one long-ass epic poem, in my opinion. There are many, many others, but I won’t bore you with the details, I’m sure you can come up with a few of your own!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I agree with you for the most part. I think a different part of the brain is triggered when there’s music involved, but there are certainly many evocative lyricists. Thom Yorke of Radiohead comes to mind. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. And I say those names because a lot of the time I haven’t a clue what their lyrics mean, so it must be friggin’ deep!

      • javaj240 says:

        This one’s pretty poetic, too, I think 🙂

        The words had all been spoken
        And somehow the feeling still wasn’t right
        And still we continued on through the night
        Tracing our steps from the beginning
        Until they vanished into the air
        Trying to understand how our lives had led us there
        Looking hard into your eyes
        The was nobody I’d ever known
        Such an empty surprise to feel so alone
        Now for me some words come easy
        But I know that they don’t mean that much
        Compared with the things that are said when lovers touch
        You never knew what I loved in you
        I don’t know what you loved in me
        Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be
        Awake again, I can’t pretend, and I know I’m alone
        And close to the end of the feeling we’ve known
        How long have I been sleeping
        How long have I been drifting alone through the night
        How long have I been dreaming I could make it right
        If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might
        To be the one you need
        Awake again, I can’t pretend, and I know I’m alone
        And close to the end of the feeling we’ve known
        How long have I been sleeping
        How long have I been driftin alone through the night
        How long have I been running for that morning flight
        Through the whispered promises and the changing light
        Of the bed where we both lie
        Late for the sky

        — Jackson Browne, Late For the Sky

  6. Laura Lynn says:

    Me too. And I need a drink. Here’s a cheerful poem for poetry month.

    Stevie Smith – Not Waving But Drowning

    Nobody heard him, the dead man,
    But still he lay moaning:
    I was much further out than you thought
    And not waving but drowning.

    Poor chap, he always loved larking
    And now he’s dead
    It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
    They said.

    Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
    (Still the dead one lay moaning)
    I was much too far out all my life
    And not waving but drowning.

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