In 1996, National Poetry Month became a movement and a moment in our nation. With the Academy of American Poets as its midwife, this pause for prosody has had its celebrants and its curmudgeons from the very beginning, but what it has had most of all is very good intentions.

The point has always been to recognize that poetry can soothe the soul, no matter what the season, and to encourage all of us to turn our awareness to poems through a month of days when they are more accessible.

So, when tax day comes around, we have cause to remember that we are meant to do more with the early spring moments than stick stamps on unwieldy envelopes with bleary eyes and sagging spirits.

The point is to involve us in poetry. No matter what your proclivity or your propensity.

If you seek an abundance of poets and facts about this month of celebration, look no further than Poets.org, from which you could have a poem delivered to your emailbox every day. You might also want to take a moment to visit the WGBH website, to read about Garrison Keillor’s Poetry Everywhere project and watch Billy Collins read his bittersweet signature poem, “The Lanyard.”

Dust off that textbook from college. Where’s that anthology Aunt Martha gave you all those years ago? Haven’t you been meaning to go back to Donne or Auden, Mary Oliver or our beloved godmother of American poetry, Emily D.?

What about taking up your pen and trying something with line breaks and images? Poetry is what is already inside of us after all. It is how we discover what we know—through reading what others have decoded for us, and through daring to crack the code of our unconscious on the page ourselves.

Our nation’s Poet Laureate is an extraordinary woman who wasn’t born yesterday.  Her name is Kay Ryan and she is reason enough to celebrate a month devoted to poetry, starting with her poem here. No matter what form your personal celebration takes, we invite you to enjoy the eloquence one woman can mine from simple observation, and to take pleasure in what has joined us all since time began–the impulse to know and to say what we know in ways that transmit the mystery of it all.

Cloud

A blue stain
creeps across
the deep pile
of the evergreens.
From inside the
forest it seems
like an interior
matter, something
wholly to do
with trees, a color
passed from one
to another, a
requirement
to which they
submit unflinchingly
like soldiers or
brave people
getting older.
Then the sun
comes back and
it’s totally over.

(c2010 Kay Ryan. Reproduced from The Poetry Foundation, where Ryan has allowed 20 poems to be reprinted so we can taste their goodness.)

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