It's National Poetry Month, and if you're looking for another way to enjoy your favorite poems — besides reading them — hang some poetic words on your walls with these pretty prints on Etsy featuring quotes from famous poets like E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, and Emily Dickinson. See some of our favorite pieces that show the beauty in poetry.
At the behest of her mother, Jackie, Caroline Kennedy would have to memorize poems for Mother's Day, Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions. Far from making her resent poetry, the tradition gave her a deep-seated love for it and inspired her just-published collection of poems reflecting on womanhood, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems. She came on The Late Show with David Letterman last night to share stories of her mother, read a selection, and talk about how the book came together. Watch it now. If you enjoy it, you might want to pick up a copy as a Mother's Day gift!
In an age of technology where some children learn to type before they print, prose could be a pastime. But, Disney Junior is getting tots enthused about the written word with A Poem Is.... The minute-long snippets will include the work of classic and contemporary poets read by celebrities and paired with animation. The vignettes will air between full-length shows beginning on Feb. 14. We asked the executive producer of the series, Brian Hohlfeld, for some tips on getting kids to pen their own work.
Katie Holmes is teaching her daughter, Suri Cruise, and other children to appreciate the written word. The actress and mom lent her voice to Disney Junior's new show, A Poem Is.... The minute-long snippets will include the work of classic and contemporary poets read by celebrities and paired with animation. The vignettes will air in between full-length shows beginning on Feb. 14. Mom of two Jennifer Garner has also signed onto the project. Disney gave us the exclusive sneak peek of Holmes reading "Mice" by Rose Fyleman. Check it out!
For anyone who thinks texting lingo is ruining the English language, maybe it's time to consider shorthand is really nothing new.
People have been shortening words into abbreviations and acronyms for centuries (IOU, an acronym for "I owe you," was coined in 1618), and Victorian poets, those beacons of propriety, were writing abbreviated poetry 150 years ago.
Instead of calling it the death of the English language, though, they called it emblematic poetry and valued it as a clever form of posy. The British Library is preparing an exhibit devoted to the English language of the last 1,500 years. One piece will be an emblematic poem from 1867 called "An Essay to Miss Catherine Jay."
Here are a few choice lines.
- To U, sweet K T J (Katie J, I presume?)
- I wrote 2 U B 4
- He says he loves U 2 X S.
- U R virtuous and Y's
- Now fare you well dear K T J.
- In X L N C U X L
X L N C U X L? I don't know either!
Am I the last person to learn that prolific children's poet Shel Silverstein had another life as a writer of decidedly adult content? Feels like it! Besides writing Johnny Cash's hit song "A Boy Named Sue," he started his career at Playboy, where he continued to contribute until his death.
To me, his poems were the epitome of childhood simplicity and playfulness. So, I was surprised to read one of his lesser-known poems, "The Perfect High." With Silverstein's trademark couplets beating like nursery rhymes, the tale of Gimmesome Roy searching for the perfect high reads like a twisted parody of his children's poems. Here's my favorite part of the poem:
"What's happening, Fats?" says Roy with joy, "I've come to state my biz.
I hear you're hip to the perfect trip. Please tell me what it is.
For you can see," says Roy to he, "that I'm about to die,
So for my last ride, Fats, how can I achieve the perfect high?"
"Well, dog my cats!" says Baba Fats. "here's one more burnt-out soul,
Who's looking for some alchemist to turn his trip to gold.
But you won't find it in no dealer's stash, or on no druggist's shelf.
Son, if you would seek the perfect high — find it in yourself."
Did you know about Shel's, um, versatility? Are you surprised?
It appears that these writers aren't the only ones who think Sarah Palin is a poet. Conan O'Brien proclaims she is a master of free verse because of her creative use of language. Conan recently invited the one and only William Shatner onto his show to recite her farewell speech, then brought Shatner back on Wednesday to recite her Tweets. With a bongo player and bass player as background, you can almost imagine being in a smoke-filled, Beatnik dive in the '50s . . .
No matter how you feel about Sarah Palin, you have to admit the woman has an awfully strange way of expressing herself. I've heard her tortured syntax and odd word choices described as a "word salad," but one writer goes further. Palin's speech is likened to a verbal Armageddon because of her unique ability to turn a simple idea into near incomprehensible gobbledygook.
Hart Seely has taken these mangled forms and rakishly proclaimed them found poetry. The simple idea, "small town mayors are on the front lines," once Palinized, sounds like this:
Mayors of small towns—
They're on the front lines.
Writing composition masters Strunk and White may not have approved of Palin's use of language ("Omit needless words" was their mantra, after all), but writer Julian Gough facetiously agrees that Sarah Palin is an accidental poet. "A great poet needs to leave open the door between the conscious and unconscious," he says. "Sarah Palin has removed her door from its hinges."
Do you think a politician needs to be articulate, or do you think these folks are just being unfair to Palin?
Poet Carol Ann Duffy talks to the media after being announced as the new poet laureate by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham in Manchester, England. Duffy is the first female (and lesbian and mother) to be given the post since it was created 341 years ago, when John Dryden was the first recipient.
To check out a Carol Ann Duffy poem and links to more of her work, read more
Another Allen Ginsberg movie, you say? Why yes, in fact, in addition to the Ginsberg biopic Howl starring James Franco as the legendary poet (check out some new pics from the set here), now Jesse Eisenberg (of The Squid and the Whale and the upcoming Adventureland) will play Ginsberg in the feature film Kill Your Darlings.
In Howl, the focus is on the obscenity trial launched to censor Ginsberg's long poem "Howl." Kill Your Darlings is not solely about Ginsberg but will tell the story of "the murder that helped spawn the Beat Generation. . . . [Ben] Whishaw will play Lucien Carr, the Columbia U. undergrad who brought together Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac ([Chris] Evans), and William S. Burroughs."
I'll be curious to see how Eisenberg and Franco's portrayals of Ginsberg differ — or match up — in these simultaneous projects. After so much remake and "rebooting" movie news, I can't express how refreshing I find these projects about a real man who genuinely influenced American culture with his art. I say, bring on the Ginsbergs.