April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, I’m inviting you to a poet party where some of my favorite poets – from the Medieval to contemporary – will be hanging out. Don’t worry about what you’re wearing; you look fine! We’ll just mingle and schmooze; I’ll introduce you to some poets I consider treasured friends and some I’m just getting to know. Then we can slink off to the punch bowl and gossip and whisper behind the ficus tree. Come on, let’s go!
Oh hey, it’s Mary Oliver! She’s from my native Ohio, you know. I think my favorite poem of hers is “Wild Geese,” with that opening promise, “You do not have to be good … “ Check that one out if you aren’t already familiar with it.
Wow, there’s Will Shakespeare, talking to Lord Byron over by the hors d’oeuvres. Shakespeare’s looking a little out of place in those tights and codpiece, but hey, whatever puts a sonnet in his bonnet!
And there’s another William – William Butler Yeats. Such a charming, quaint chap, isn’t he? Look how he’s blushing with all those female admirers around him! Hard to believe someone so shy could write something as bold as “Leda and the Swan!”
Over there is Sherman Alexie. Now I’m the one who’s blushing! He’s a great novelist but some of his poems about growing up on the reservation, and his “Indian Boy Love Poem” series … they’re really something special.
Marge Piercy‘s come. Her poems have always just rocked me to the core! I wonder if it would be corny to ask her to autograph my copy of The Moon is Always Female. I know she’s published a lot of other volumes, but that one is a personal favorite.
I’ll definitely have to say hello to Louise Erdrich. She is such an inspiration to me! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read her poetry collection, Jacklight. Those poems take my breath away!
Anne Sexton has shown up. I want to talk to her, but she’s such an intense, dark person, I’m a little afraid. Still, her poems have been an influence on me, especially “Her Kind.” Wow.
Oh look, it’s Billy Collins! Doubtless the former U.S. poet laureate will be the life of the party. I’ve seen him recite in person, you know. Billy’s almost like a stand-up comedian who just happens to write poetry. (And what is it with poets and the name William?)
And Maya Angelou is here! I have such admiration for her! Her approach to life, her words of wisdom have really been a guide for me.
Oh my gosh, D.H. Lawrence is talking to Elizabeth Bishop! Lawrence is such a womanizer; I hope he has enough sense not to hit on Elizabeth! Maybe we can work our way over there and ask Elizabeth to recite “One Art” for us. That villanelle inspired me to write a couple of my own.
John Keats is here, poor dear. He’s looking rather pale, isn’t he? He’s probably still pining over Fanny What’s-Her-Name. Sure wish we could get the boy some proper medical care.
More poets are arriving, including Dante Alighieri, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Stanley Kunitz, Philip Levine, William Carlos Williams, Sharon Olds, Robinson Jeffers, Margaret Atwood, Robert Frost, Joy Harjo, and Louise Glück. What a motley crowd!
And look who’s lurking in the corner – it’s Emily Dickinson! She’s such a recluse, I can’t believe she actually left Amherst to come here. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can’t chat her up a bit. Maybe I can spike her punch and get her to confide in me, share a couple of those well-kept secrets of hers …