Happy New Year to You

In verse:

The Year
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.


More Faculty Fun Stuff

Johanny Vazquez Paz has a book release party for her new poetry collection Querido Voyeur.

The party starts at 6pm at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (3015 West Division Street), and admission is free! Go hear some poetry and congratulate Johanny!

And congratulations to Alberto Aguilar, named a 2012 Breakout Artist by NewCity Magazine.

And congrats, too, to Caroline Shoenberger, who has been honored as a 2012 DePaul “Women of Spirit and Action.”

And, if you still get Time Magazine, maybe you saw Megan Ritt’s byline on the review of the new Rufus Wainwright album, which she reviewed for the music blog she writes for called The Consequence of Sound. Check it out

Happy National Poetry Month


Have you ordered/received your poster yet? Have you been reading your poem a day all year long?

Have you had a chance to look at the glorious book of poetry gathered up by educators from across the country in a book called, “Teaching With Fire”? Do yourself a a favor and check it out. It’s magnificent.

Have you read a poem lately?

Better yet, have you heard one read, a poem that will make you laugh? Or one that might make you cry?

If not, what the hell are you waiting for?

Black History Month Begins

February is Black History Month. I posted this poem at the end of BHM last year, but it fits better at the beginning, I think.

“BLK History Month” from Nikki Giovanni’s Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea:

If Black History Month is not

viable then wind does not

carry the seeds and drop them

on fertile ground

rain does not

dampen the land

and encourage the seeds

to root

sun does not

warm the earth

and kiss the seedlings

and tell them plain:

You’re As Good As Anybody Else

You’ve Got A Place Here, Too

And don’t forget the kickoff event today featuring Martin L. King, President of Operation Push (2-3:30pm, rm 103)!

MLK Day Required Reading

Oh, sure, you’ll hear a lot about the Dream speech today, and (don’t get me wrong) it’s a great speech, but I vastly prefer “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

If you haven’t read it in awhile, give it a read today. It will be time well spent…

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Halfway Through Poetry Month

Perhaps you’d like to take a small break from reading poetry, and read someone writing about poetry.

If so, check this out; I found it really interesting. And just yesterday (after listening to this story), I had an urge to pull Walt Whitman off the shelf and spend some time with him this weekend. After reading this, it’s a practical certainty (good lord willing and the creek don’t rise).

And if that doesn’t tempt you, check out this little piece on Lucille Clifton, who is equally (though differently) awesome.

This Week’s Poetry Site

As I sort of implied last week, I’m going to feature a Poetry Web site every Monday in April since April is National Poetry Month and the world needs more poetry in it.

You can travel the world on the World Wide Web, but you can find some great local stuff, too. This week’s featured Poetry site is a local production, hosted by the Poetry Foundation. You might remember them as being a relatively tiny group, putting together a successful enough, but relatively unknown journal dedicated to poetry, when a woman named Ruth Lilly bequeathed a boat load of money on them five years ago.

Their site is a treasure trove of delights, including my own personal favorite area called According to a Poetry Everywhere and a list of upcoming poetry events in Chicago. According to a letter from their President, the Foundation will break ground this spring for new, permanent digs right here in Chicago. We are, and likely will be, lucky to have them. Check it out.

April is National Poetry Month

Read one!

This week’s featured treasury of poems is The Academy of American Poets’ site Poets.org. Every year they give away beautiful posters (there’s a place to request yours on the site), and you can sign up for daily poems by email in April, too.

I am also asking you to consider reading a poem every day to each of your classes in April. Just a poem. Any poem. Once per class per day. Maybe try this one! Or play this one in class

But Dave, you might say, that’s just hokey, cornball, a waste of valuable class time, given that my subject is not poetry.

Poppycock, I say. Give it a try. And if you’re not sure what Poetry can mean to someone, if you’re interested in a little persuasive reason, well then I offer you the words of one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers, Richard Rorty. He wrote this essay about the role of poetry in his life after he’d been diagnosed with inoperable, terminal cancer. Down at the end of it, he wrote this:

However that may be, I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse… I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses.

A great poem can stop time. It can alter a moment, a day, even a world. Share some poems that you love with your students. If they’ve heard them before, they may hear them anew. If they’ve never heard the poem, they may thank you for a gift that they can carry with them for the rest of their days.