How We’re Celebrating National Poetry Month
Poetry and its unique use of language are how some of us make sense of the world and our place in it. It’s how some of us got through our turbulent adolescence. And for some of us, it just reminds us of high school English class, trying to find some meaning in the words to write a coherent essay before the bell rings. No matter your relationship with poetry, we’ve all been touched by that perfect phrase, that perfect rhyme, and that perfect cadence. Poetry is vital to culture, both now and throughout history, and we at Fractured Atlas are thrilled to celebrate it in April with National Poetry Month. Periodically throughout the rest of the month, we’ll be sharing some of the poems that are important to us and even some that we’ve composed ourselves! So, whether you’re a poet yourself or haven’t thought about Poetry since school, check back in every once in a while this April to possibly find your next favorite poem and learn more about us as people in the process. Be sure to follow us on Instagram to get them in your feed as soon as they’re posted.
7. Original Poetry by Pallavi Sharma, Chief Program Officer
6. Staff Pick by Nicola Carpenter, Administrative Associate
The background on these sundial mottos from Nicola:
Ever since listening to the podcast S-Town, I’ve been in love with mottos written on sundials. Time is such an important thing and I find it fascinating how different people choose to track and quantify it. What I love about sundial mottos is that the sundial is so specific to it’s location, depending on the latitude and longitude, but the mottos written on them connect to a more universal idea of time. They also remind of a time before smartwatches and satellite clocks.
I pulled these specific ones from a list of mottos on Wikipedia and have enjoyed incorporating Mox Nox into my own vocabulary. Whenever dusk approaches and I’m feeling in the mood to confuse people around me or contemplate time, I throw it out there. It also just sounds really great to say. Mox Nox.
5. Staff Pick by Malcolm Evans, Program Associate
Why this poem is important to Malcolm:
I remember reading this poem in school. I think it was my sophomore year of high school, in a survey course. I’ve always been a person with frenetic energy, but the calm the poem exudes has always been special to me. It disrupts what Yeats says in the last stanza about the feeling of constantly being summoned by a thing or place. It puts a certain quiet over the energy of that. I have this poem tacked to my screenwriting board at home, now, as a reminder that I can have stillness in my writing process.
4. Staff Pick by Lauren Ruffin, Vice President of External Relations
Why this poem is important to Lauren:
I first read this poem for a class on the Harlem Renaissance in college. Initially, it didn’t make much of an impression. The poem is a bit dry and opaque, with the mentions of cotton referring to slavery’s oppression.
I picked up Jean Toomer’s book, Cane, and this poem a few months ago, shortly after the election, and the poem had new meaning — specifically rebirth in the face of circumstances that seem insurmountable. And, the last two lines are so well written and full of hope.
3. Original Poetry by Lisa Niedermeyer, Director of Client Development
The background for “Napkin Poetry”:
I travel a lot, which means I eat out a lot. Napkin poetry (writing poems by hand on whatever napkin is available) has long been a part of my creative practice of being present.
While waiting for my meal, I’ll pen a little ephemeral something for the person I’m sharing a meal with, or the person I’m longing to be with.
“Napkin Poetry” in it’s original form:
2. Staff Pick by Jason Tseng, Community Engagement Specialist
Why this poem is important to Jason:
This poem was one of the first times that I was able to be confronted with and see my queerness reflected back at me in a work of literature. One of my mom’s favorite romantic comedies was Four Weddings and a Funeral (come through Hugh Grant!). I don’t remember much about the movie, but the eponymous funeral from the film features Matthew — a gay man mourning his lover’s sudden death — reading this poem to commemorate his relationship with his partner. It’s a gut-wrenching scene and completely interrupts the comedic pacing of the film, and I often still think of this poem and how beautifully it evokes the pain of a love lost.
The scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral :
Actor Tom Hiddleston reading “Funeral Blues”:
1. Staff Pick by Courtney Harge, Member Advisor
Why this poem is important to Courtney:
This poem perfectly encapsulates my world view: celebratory pragmatism. Why should we not celebrate the things we do just to “shape” our lives? The language in it is a victory lap that acknowledges the harsh realities of existing in this world as “both nonwhite and woman.” The poem rejoices in the self without excluding anyone: it is a literal invitation.
A friend introduced this poem to me a few years ago, and I remember feeling moved by its simplicity and directness. The last four lines shattered me. I feel like my entire life story exists between Ntozake Shange’s “i found god in myself / & i loved her / I loved her fiercely” and “come celebrate / with me that everyday / something has tried to kill me / and has failed.” Language is beautiful and even more so when the self is reflected in it.
About Fractured Atlas
Fractured Atlas is a nonprofit organization that helps over 1.2 million artists of all stripes with the business aspects of their work.