This week I wanted to take a trip down memory lane, back to the year 1996. This seems a random time to look back at, I’m sure, but I have my reasons. In this historic year, Ebay and Ask Jeeves burst onto the internet, NASA launched the Mars Global Surveyor, and Nintendo 64 was released in Japan. The UN adopted the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, GA. 1996 was also a cinematic treasure-trove. We got such movies as Independence Day (“Today we celebrate our Independence Day”) and Twister (“another cow”). Disney gave us 101 Dalmatians and Star Trek made first contact.
But, to get to the real reason I brought up the year 1996: this was also the year that the Academy of American Poets founded National Poetry Month in April. As such, I wanted to use this week’s column to remind everyone about some of the incredible poets with whom the world has been gifted. We have Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Pablo Neruda, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Langston Hughes. Or Maya Angelou, whose words still resonate, and who will never be forgotten. Rupi Kaur, who published her first collection of poetry in 2014, Milk and Honey, is fairly new to the poetry scene and captures readers with her accessible style.
And then there’s Shel Silverstein, beloved by all ages, who wrote both poetry and song lyrics; something I distinguish between because of the on-going debates about whether or not lyrics can be considered true “poetry” in the strictest sense. What are your thoughts on the matter? You can let us know on social media, keep an eye out for our poetry posts and add your comments.
We also have local poets who deserve mention (though I can’t hope to name them all), such as Jericho Brown, James Nolan, or Buddy Wakefield. All have their distinctive style but use their experiences growing up in Louisiana and later elsewhere to fuel some of their most memorable works.
I’m running out of column inches and still have too many poets that I wish I could mention. Instead I’ll give you the tools to find their work and biographies on your own. For example, we have a number of databases such as Gale Literary Sources or Literary Reference Center which will enable you to search for a specific poet you’re interested in. And, of course we have books (check out the 800s in Non-Fiction), and ask us for guidance! You may not consider yourself a poetry fan, but it’s just possible you simply haven’t found the poet whose words speak to you yet.
Check out the Academy of American Poets’ website for 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month