National Poetry Month

April 11, 2023

Happy National Poetry Month! I believe that’s the traditional greeting.

I am highlighting some of the books from our poetry section this week. Ted Kooser is Nebraska’s most famous poet. He served as the Poet Laureate of the United States, (“PLUS” as the Secret Service might say), from 2004-2006. His poetry is conversational and often focuses on day-to-day life. We have a number of his books on the shelf at the library. 

Loren Eiseley is another Nebraskan with poetic roots. He published a number of essays on paleontology and history of the natural world. He also published some poetry on similar subjects.

You can also find Frost, Longfellow, and Dickinson, Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver on the poetry shelf as well. Baxter Black might be considered a classic poet in our area, and we have one of his books. 

Two books of more classical style poetry caught my eye. “Aim for a Star” by Helen Lowrie Marshall is inspirational and heartwarming. “Bless the Children: Poems in the spirit of childhood” by Bette Milleson James.

Are you a member of the Red Hat Society? The idea for this group came from a book of poems and essays called “When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple.” The title comes from the poem, Warning by Jenny Joseph about growing old. This book was published in 1987, but it rings true today, and it’s on the poetry shelf at the library.

Poetry is evolving, and we have a number of books by newer poets.

“Haiku for the Single Girl” written by Beth Griffenhagen and illustrated by Cynthia Vehlslage Myers is a relatable little book with charming illustrations.

Singers and songwriters often write poetry. We have a book of poetry written by Halsey. Her poetry addresses the same themes as her music, and is very personal in nature. Singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey also published a book of poetry. “Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass” includes poetry illustrated with photographs taken by the author. Jewel also wrote a book of poetry called “A Night Without Armor.”

Two of our most popular poets are Rupi Kaur and Amanda Gorman. Kaur (a Canadian) writes about being an immigrant and a feminist. She illustrates her poetry with evocative art. Amanda Gorman read her poem, The Hill We Climb at the 2020 presidential inauguration when she was 22 years old. It is included in her book “Call Us What We Carry.”

The children’s shelves host a healthy poetry collection as well.

A couple of the Newbery Award winners are poetry. Most recently, Kwame Alexander won for “The Crossover,” a novel of poems about basketball. I read this out loud to my son and we both enjoyed it.

Aside from the classic Shel Silverstein, we have “The Random House Book of Poetry for Children: a treasury of 572 poems for today’s child.” This book includes classics from poets like Kate Greenaway and Langston Hughes as well as a large number of modern poets like Jack Prelutsky. We even have a book written by child poet Mattie J.T. Stepanek.

We have two new playful books of poetry in the children’s section. “Marshmallow Clouds: two poets at play among figures of speech” was written by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek “Yuck, You Suck: poems about animals that sip, slurp, suck” was written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple.

Gering Public Library is hosting a poetry reading on April 17 at 7:00 p.m. Participants can read poetry they wrote or a favorite poem from someone else. Contact the library at 308-436-7433 if you would like to sign up, or you can contact us on Facebook or in person as well.

These are the last lines of  If Librarians Were Honest by Joseph Mills: 

“If librarians were honest,

they would say, No one

spends time here without being

changed. Maybe you should

go home. While you still can.

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