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April is Poetry Month: What's The Appeal?


Poetry is a dying art. At least for most people. Flame me with e-mails if I'm wrong, but it just seems to me that no one takes the time to write it, read it, much less memorize it and recite it. Of course this is preposterous!


April 10, 2006
— Rap and Poetry Slams have never been more popular. Shakespeare capitalized on this with his sonnets in iambic pentameter, an Elizabeathan version of the slam.

Yes, poetry has simply returned to its roots as a performance art. This is why John Keating, Robin Williams' character in Dead Poet Society, has such success with the frat boys when he rips 'Prichard's rules of poetry' out of their textbooks and instead, lets the words drip from his mouth like a feasting beast, and stomps the rhythm of Cadets converting into machines. Such is the power of poetry. It can rouse a nation, represent an identity, and rally a cause.

It is not surprising that poetry has been banned more than any other form of writing. When Ginsberg wrote Howl, in 1986, a work revisited in Jason Shinder's new book, The Poem that Changed America, "Howl" Fifty Years Later (March 2006, Farrar, Straus & Girroux) more modern poets referenced Howl in the contemporary writers' census, as the poem that changed their lives.  It represents the Beat generation's literary nakedness. People like Jack Kerouac, a far cry from the projected legacy of Walt Whitman 125 years earlier.

So it is in this vein that BookBuffet approaches poetry month as a celebration of the power of a few good words. What follows is a unpublished work followed by links to Poet Laureates in scattered places.

Standing for a moment

Published with permission. The poet is a marine biologist and environmentalist who walks along the banks of the Fraser River with his dog when taking breaks from his office duties.

Standing for a moment

Toes in winter boots


The river's edge

Gazing into my own

Rippled pond



By a wing of geese

Passing over the water

Like a healerís hand

Its subtle brush of air

Quieting rippled water

Under the gentle touch

Of a soft feathered shadow


A colourful chorused call

Finds me and draws me

From my sleeping place

To join them

In their triumphant return

To spring


Now out of sight

Past the thicket

Of budding branches

On the other side

Of the river

The geese move on


I watched it all happen

And somehow now

My inner pond

Full and clear and still

Has awakened

To the rhythm

Of a new season

John Millar, Vancouver Canada

Poetry Links

CANADA: New Canon: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry, Carmine Starino, Editor. (April 2006)

USA:Poet Laureate Website

Louise Gluk Averno, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition March 2006)  One of today's most popular poets, and Pulitzer Prize winner 2004.


Ted Kooser (US Poet Laureate 2004-present) Delights and Shadows, winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2005


Billy Collins Live: A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, (Random House Audio, unabridged 2005) with Billy Collins and Bill Murray. One of my personal favorites along with his earlier collection, Sailing Alone Around the Room(Random House 2002)  

UK: Poet Laureate Site

Andrew Motion Here to Eternity: An Anthology of Poetry (Faber and Faber)

The Poetry Archive: A treasure trove of UK poets reading their works.



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