By Mary Anne Myers
“April is the cruelest month,” wrote the poet T.S. Eliot in 1922, but since 1996 April has also become known as National Poetry Month, thanks to the initiative of The Academy of American Poets. This year, Philipstown.info will join the annual celebration with a special series, “One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You,” featuring 30 videos of Philipstown and Beacon locals each reading a favorite poem. The series begins on Tuesday, April 1, with one new video added each day throughout the month.
The call for participants has drawn responses from a wide variety of favorite community faces. Chosen texts are equally diverse, ranging from a meditation on combs by Kanye West to a drinking song that originated in China’s Tang dynasty more than a thousand years ago, reaching us through an interpretation by Gustav Mahler. Many of the selections are original compositions by their readers while others represent the work of well- and lesser-known poets living and dead.
“Mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain,” as Eliot says of April, touching poems that remember lost loved ones blend with those that anticipate the long-awaited season of warmth and renewal. Humor abounds too, in the profundity of dogs and the grammatical silliness of mythical monsters.
The idea for “One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You” came to Philipstown.info from The Paper’s layout editor Kate Vikstrom, who got permission to borrow the title from her former hometown radio station, KRBD radio in Ketchikan, Alaska, which has run an audio series under this banner every April for nearly 20 years. The title invites poetry resisters to join those who relish the art’s ability to instruct, delight, inspire, and heal us. Vikstrom, arts editor Alison Rooney, technical editor Chip Rowe, videographer Greg Gunder, this writer, and the entire staff of The Paper have joined energies to mount the Philipstown.info version.
For more information on National Poetry Month, visit poets.org. The Poetry Foundation site at poetryfoundation.org is another good source.