Really thought that spring
Might never come again. Ugh.
I need some sunshine.
Spring is (FINALLY) showing its face just in time for National Poetry Month. Throughout April, poetry will be celebrated by schools, libraries, and overall awesome people all over the country. NPR is running its Muses and Metaphor series where they’ll feature Twitter poems from NPR fans using the #TMMPoetry hashtag. Many cities are holding similar twitter poetry events, like New York City’s #NYCPoetwee. Last year, former Mayor Bloomberg introduced the event, now in its fourth year, by penning his own original poem about artistic freedom.
If you’re looking to delve a little deeper into poetry this month, here are five female poets to check out in celebration of National Poetry Month:
Although we’ve come a long way since Dorothy Parker famously wrote, “Boys seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” (they so do!), her poetry is still incredibly impactful. Born in 1893 and perhaps best known for her short stories and literary criticism, Dorothy Parker is also an accomplished poet. Her poems touch on depression, marriage, being single, men and more with her typical skill and biting wit.
In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.
If you don’t love her poetry, at least love her for being the type of opinionated woman to say: “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”
If you are a mother to a daughter, I hope you show spoken-word poet Sarah Kay’s “If I Should Have a Daughter” to her someday. If you are not a mother, I hope it helps you form some part of how you want to raise a daughter. And, if you are on the fence about children all-together like me, I hope it reminds you of the things you deserve to have and be. Sarah Kay has led her own TedTALK based on this poem and for obvious reasons—it speaks to all.
And she’s going to learn
that this life will hit you hard in the face,
Wait for you to get back up
just so it can kick you in the stomach.
But getting the wind knocked out of you
is the only way to remind your lungs
how much they like the taste of air.
—If I Should Have a Daughter
Another phenomenal and inspiring Sarah Kay poem to watch is “ The Type“, a poem she wrote for her best friend.
Mary Oliver’s poetry blends nature and life together into some of the most relatable and touching bits of imagery, advice, and guidance. A winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, Oliver is America’s best-selling poet for good reason. When I feel the need to send an uplifting note to a friend, I will often include a piece of a Mary Oliver poem.
“But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
A former Poet Laureate (2010), Kay Ryan’s poems are never as simple and straight-forward as they seem. Although they are generally short, there are layers of meaning in each rhythmic poem. Often often injected with humor, they demand a re-reading to find the tiny puncture wound her words have created.
“A cat can draw
behind her eyes
alters in the stare
itself but she’s
not there. Likewise
a future can occlude:
still sitting there,
doing nothing rude.”
—A Cat/A Future
Desiree is leading the way in female spoken word. Based in New Orleans, she is a powerhouse of emotion with an infectious sense of humor and a captivating voice. Picture a motivational speaker gone real-talk. Listening to her poems is heart-aching and heart-mending all at the same time. Each one is a roller coaster of emotions that, by the end, leaves you feeling like you got something off of your chest. Her most recently filmed poem is called Thighs and is NSFW, but absolutely worth watching.
My thighs say thunderous.
My thighs say too fat-for-skinny-jeans,
say wide, say open.
My thighs say cellulite, say bad tattoo,
say stretch mark, say pock mark, say ingrown hair.
My thighs feel upset that you only offered one bite
of your Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
My thighs say more, please.
More room, more beat to drop.
My thighs can dance all night.
My thighs want your thighs to work a little bit harder.