It’s National Poetry Month! As part of our celebration, we’re hosting a contest that asks you to write a poem in the form of a letter. You can win some very cool prizes—including a custom-created print with a line from your winning poem, like the one seen at the left!
Eating Poetry by Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
Why we love this poem: It’s weird and exciting. Mark Strand takes the cliche of poetry “becoming a part of us” and runs wild with it. Instead of writing a simple poem where he explicitly states that he is inspired by poetry to create more poetry, he turns himself into an animal, chewing up books of poetry in the library, giddy with the excitement of having learned (eaten?) something new.
Workshop by Billy Collins
I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title.
It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now
so immediately the poem has my attention,
like the Ancient Mariner grabbing me by the sleeve.
Why we love this poem: It’s. So. FUNNY. In this poem, Billy Collins creates a faux-critique of the very poem he is writing. In doing so, he points out some of the silliest cliches spoken aloud in poetry workshops. This poem takes accusations about poetry being too stuffy or taking itself too seriously and throws them right out the window.
The Uses of Poetry by William Carlos Williams
I’ve fond anticipation of a day
O’erfilled with pure diversion presently,
For I must read a lady poesy
The while we glide by many a leafy bay
Why we love this poem: It’s full of beautiful imagery. Williams creates a dreamy, pleasant world that you can very easily lose yourself in. And that is precisely what the poem is trying to tell us. Poetry has the power to transport us to magical places, to transform the world around us, and show us things we’ve never seen before.
Poetry Is a Destructive Force by Wallace Stevens
That’s what misery is,
Nothing to have at heart.
It is to have or nothing.
Why we love this poem: There is a nervous, potential energy in this poem that makes you feel like it may explode at any minute — and it’s a very strange, disorienting thing to feel like a poem may explode. More than focusing on using power and causing an uproar, though, this poem focuses a lot on restraint – a very important skill to keep in mind while writing poetry or fiction.
Poetry by Marianne Moore
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important
beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Why we love this poem: Let’s be real — sometimes we can’t stand writing. It can be frustrating and difficult. It can cause you sleepless nights and subsequent terrible hair days. But there is some inherent, undeniable value in writing and reading that keeps us (and Marianne Moore) coming back to our notebooks and typewriters.
Be sure to keep up your poetry month spirit by checking out poets.org for even more wonderful poems, writing tips, and poetry-related content!